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Playlist: Civil Liberties for Lifelong Learners

Compiled By: Susan Cook

The consequence? Intimidation of constituents so they dare not call... Credit: SusanCook
Image by: SusanCook  
The consequence? Intimidation of constituents so they dare not call...

Commentaries, Sixty Second Moral Inquiries and Two and One Half Minute Conspiracy Theories along with a lyric or two for The Great American Wrongbook (and the Department of Poetic Justice and Reckoning) ! Life long education to answer the question : What is a civil liberty anyway?
In 2011, at least one Maine journalist violated the civil liberties of a citizen testifying at a Redistricting Hearing and exercising her Freedom of Speech by calling the testimony " a personal attack " . The journalist never contacted or spoke to the woman who testified but rather talked to 2 men, both of whom chose to ignore the environmental devastation that prompted the woman's observation about the negligence of the elected official in the first place. Sexism can destroy civil liberties too ! So, lifelong learning about civil liberties might be helpful.
'Personal attack' sparks Maine GOP chief's call for resignation https://www.pressherald.com/?p=358563 Hide full description

Commentaries, Sixty Second Moral Inquiries and Two and One Half Minute Conspiracy Theories along with a lyric or two for The Great American Wrongbook (and the Department of Poetic Justice and Reckoning) ! Life long education to answer the question : What is a civil liberty anyway? In 2011, at least one Maine journalist violated the civil liberties of a citizen testifying at a Redistricting Hearing and exercising her Freedom of Speech by calling the testimony " a personal attack " . The journalist never contacted or spoke to the woman who testified but rather talked to 2 men, both of whom chose to ignore the environmental devastation that prompted the woman's observation about the... Show full description

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: Shouldn't Facebook Be Accountable for their Exploitation of Anonymity - the Faceless- by FacebookTrolling?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:35

Shouldn't Facebook also be held accountable for their moral indifference to the human consequence of Facebook trolling that the platform's anonymity has helped flourish?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: Isn't exploiting the power of  anonymity- Being Faceless- as Morally Indifferent as Violating People's Privacy?
Facebook has made millions by discovering the power of giving away anonymity: the secret holder who then exploits it for abuse, money, what-have-you, morally indifferent and facelessly. Why didn't anyone ask Mark Zuckerberg  why Facebook makes it so hard to find out who's trashing you on Facebook but easy-peasy for advertisers to track your every move? For every adolescent, who before  suiciding,  was victimized by an aggressive, slanderous  anonymous Facebook user's posts, that Facebook has made almost impossible to trace the  origin of,  shouldn't Facebook acknowledge the consequences of this tactic which every genocide has also exploited? For every request that the post-er be identified that Facebook has dismissed as insignificant, because we the small and vulnerable are the requesters, shouldn't Facebook be asked to explain their moral indifference? Isn't that just  as much a violation of human rights as their disregard for the constitutional right to privacy? 

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: What's Wrong With the Many Chimneys, One Smokestack Approach to Legislating

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:25

Elected representatives have taken a new approach to legislating. Only their own district or cell or voting area can receive information from there! Otherwise- blocked on Twitter!! Banned from videotaping for the local Public Access Television Channel! What's wrong with legislation created chimney be chimney?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry:
What's wrong with A Many Chimneys, One Smokestack approach to Legislation?

-Susan Cook-


If elected representatives act as if their only concern is just their district or area or cell where people vote for them, doesn't that mean that democracy's voice or smoke is isolated, segmented chimney by chimney. When each chimney funneling into one big smoke stack is isolated-  will each of the representatives for each of those cells not see the big picture or what's coming out of the big smoke stack each of those individual chimneys feed into? And isn't that the way the big smoke stack carries out plans those individual chimneys just can't see or know about? Especially if the big smoke stack panders or bribes or strokes those individual chimneys one by one or threatens them if they don't go along with the big smoke stack plan?  And isn't that how you end up with no democracy at all because then only the big smokestack really knows what's going on and everyone else gets blocked on Twitter or thrown out of the meeting?

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: What's Wrong With the Many Chimneys, One Smokestack Approach to Legislating

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:25

Elected representatives have taken a new approach to legislating. Only their own district or cell or voting area can receive information from there! Otherwise- blocked on Twitter!! Banned from videotaping for the local Public Access Television Channel! What's wrong with legislation created chimney be chimney?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry:
What's wrong with A Many Chimneys, One Smokestack approach to Legislation?

-Susan Cook-


If elected representatives act as if their only concern is just their district or area or cell where people vote for them, doesn't that mean that democracy's voice or smoke is isolated, segmented chimney by chimney. When each chimney funneling into one big smoke stack is isolated-  will each of the representatives for each of those cells not see the big picture or what's coming out of the big smoke stack each of those individual chimneys feed into? And isn't that the way the big smoke stack carries out plans those individual chimneys just can't see or know about? Especially if the big smoke stack panders or bribes or strokes those individual chimneys one by one or threatens them if they don't go along with the big smoke stack plan?  And isn't that how you end up with no democracy at all because then only the big smokestack really knows what's going on and everyone else gets blocked on Twitter or thrown out of the meeting?

In the Department of Poetic Justice: You Don't Know This But Your Civil Rights Are Violated

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:43

From The Great American Wrongbook and In Today's Department of Poetic Justice, a poetic tribute to the question: what's wrong with violating the civil rights of citizens who go to public hearings to testify. Could be sung to the tune from The Sound of Music, "You Are 16, Going On 17".

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In the Department of  Poetic Justice: You Don't Know This but Your Civil Rights
(and the Great American Wrongbook which could be sung to the tune "You are 16 Going On 17"
from "The Sound of Music")


-Susan Cook-
You don't know this but  your civil rights
on the Internet,
can be reduced
to mush and you can't say
or even make a guess
Who it is because you can just bet
they will not tell you.
Their IP numbers
lead you in circles
out on the World Wide Web.


Politicians and their staffers
think that their job includes
negative, hostile
demeaning, caustic
words they will aim at you.


Lunatic for criticizing,
exposing you could say,
electeds who don't know
why the voters
should have something to say.



Staffers can be good at lying
And maybe you should know,
Erhlichman, John Dean,
Haldeman, that scene,
dirty and just obscene



Politicians, dirty staffers
sometimes go hand-in-hand.
And in this Nation,
From DC  to Maine
some often do slip through.



They will spend their time in the State House
trying to discredit you,
on your  tax dollar,
Privacy Guarded,  on sites
they've come to know




Where they'll post demeaning comments
Democrats do it too
While their Communication
Director pretends
she just doesn't know.



When it's  time for applications
for jobs at the State House
misogynistic, fascist,
or sexist, oh well,
hide email notes?



Call the  other party's staffer
try to get him on board.
Proxy, so toxic,
civil rights blocks it
when people file suit



Since the limitations
of the statute are not met
Solar pronouncements
liberal announcements
don't allow or defend



Violating civil rights,
the Director doth approve,
legal, illegal, law school achievers
might help prevent abuse.


Maybe yes or maybe no. Depends
if where they'd like to end
elected to Congress,
where they won't confess
their civil rights offense.


Pump it up and put it out,
the environmental news
sent to the press
now would be hard-pressed
to find out his real past.



If the Speaker brings corruption
into their messaging
there goes the free press,
Antidotally keeps
Democracy different


From some fascist dictator
who believes the  public blames
who she decides 
will ruin her game plan,
public jobs,  personal gain.



Human rights, their  violators
aren't just in one party,
Democrats, 
GOP  staff,
ignoring your civil liberties.


When they decide they will take
the b-i-t-ch out to the woodshed,
law school, a small school
compared to the
leadership's big decree.
Staffers who don't see big pictures,
bigger than Africa,
Ukraine, Rwanda,
where leaders still launder
human rights they've squandered



Are in danger of repeating
just what they've done before
violate people who
speak at a hearing.
We have seen all of  this before.

Fake News Creation and the Abuse of Power- Local Style: A Citizen's Guide

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:54

This American Life recently reminded us that the Democratic Party doesn't seem to get who it is anymore. Is it the Political Gamesmanship that's done it? Or their own creation as, yes, Donald Trump, says of fake news.

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Fake News Creation and the Abuse of Power: Local-Style
-Susan Cook-
The one thing Donald Trump's Presidency has congealed- let's say- is the reality of Fake News. The cracks and fissures in political parties have always left plenty of room for the Directors of Communications, the Chiefs of Staff, the Executive Directors to attempt- and sometimes succeed- in selectively using (or trying to use)  media to showcase fake, exagerrated, information, to go so far as to exploit civil liberties- those of an individual or the citizenry- to pursue their agenda. Which, Donald Trump's explosive uncontrolled- let us call them- outbursts- have now draw the ethical media's glare toward. 
He does not draw a distinction between ethical, fact-driven "updates" and self-serving "proxies" for the truth. He also doesn't seem to understand that fake news creation is an abuse of power- whether it's the small kind doled out in teaspoons or the big kind- like the President of the United States has.
But political parties- locally- at times- don't seem to grasp the connection either- at least pre-Trump. Neither do state legislators- locally- at times. Or those down at the town or city hall- at times.
And if the the lapses are occassional, let's say- Chris Christies' Staffer ordering lane closures to undermine and humiliate a New Jersey mayor whose town happened to include a passageway to New York City- the problem can't be reduced to just  "not a good hire",  as  Mr. Scarramouchi unhelpfully called Steve Bannon recently. The staffer who doesn't understand why creation of fake news or using a "proxy" to create fake news is an abuse of power-  also  undermines the entire premise of a free press in a democratic society. They don't get how using an IP server based in another country, say, Montreal , Quebec,  to promote or highlight distortion and exaggerration makes them as malevolently in danger of violating civil liberties as anyone. No matter if they have a D or R or I next to their name or are coached or given permission by lawyers moonlighting as politicians. Freedom of the press doesn't mean  free to lie and distort- although sometimes "it happens". It means equal right to take part in the publication/ presentation  of media without fear of having your home illegally searched, your privacy invaded, your car followed, relatives haranged. 
In Maine, as has happened  nationally, we have watched what is supposed to be the lynch pin- policies - that differentiates one party from another become weak and brittle.  In Maine, Democrats in 2008 lost the statewide Senate race, in 2010  the Governorship,  2012 the US Senate race,  in 2014 the Governorship, the 2nd CD and the Senate again, in 2016 the 2nd Congressional district seat and the Presidential Elector for the 2nd CD House district.
As an episode of  This American Life pointed out recently, the distinction between the 2 parties has gotten lost. Democrats do not know how to say- out loud- big girl like- what they stand for. In Maine- often- Political Gamesmanship, Political favor- trading and vengeance toward people who say things they don't like- are at the front of the party line. Using Montreal, Quebec-based IP numbers as website hosts to spread untruths or upload items to the "Cloud", difficult to trace back to the party staffer hacking away on an I-phone. Or simply finally paying off their collaborators with the bigger Communications Director or Chief of Staff job.
That is how the Abuse of Power is sustained, that's how the ethics of institutions are undermined, and yes, eventually the role of the free press in sustaining the Constitution. Even the ethical but naive politician  who comes along and is cajoled into hiring staffers who have a history a mile long of abusing the teaspoon of power in jobs they've held- that naive politician becomes a "proxy", unwittingly, albeit. Post Women's March 2018 whether women are any better at not abusing power, or creating fake news, or fake situations  to pursue their vendettas, political favor-trading, job paybacks, we do not know.  In the absence of the usual elevation to positions of power, passive aggression has always been a female strategy- gossip, back-stabbing so long as you don't get caught or, these days, the IP number traced, or the Facebook post identified. It's why some women prefer males as friends.

Fake news creation is about as passive aggressive as it gets. Slightly genomed up, it places at risk, an ethical free press because even the party Communications Director may not telling you fact. Without an ethical press, the opportunity for anybody to rise to the top job, based on merit, trustworthiness, skill is in danger.

Killing The Red Pines in Charlotte: The Private Time Line of Environmental Contamination

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:45

I’ve been asking for about 9 years now why Red Pines that have thrived for hundreds of years would die. Not that I knew 9 years ago they would die. But I did know something would happen because as close as 160 feet from the upper perimeter of their hillside cemetery location, a Connecticut-based company- Lane Construction- began to expand gravel mining. I was thinking about pollution to the water aquifer under the mining operation, the noise level driving migratory birds away, the destabilization of the landscape which with enough rain could easily cave in, hundreds of caskets falling into some giant sinkhole. Google Earth clarifies exactly what those Red Pines were up against.

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Killing the Red Pines in Charlotte, Maine:The Private Time Line of Environmental Contamination
-Susan Cook-
In the Charlotte, Maine 2016-2017 Town Report, there’s a paragraph about the Red Pines bordering the upper perimeter of the town cemetery where the town’s loyal ancestors and friends lie. Some of the Red Pines have now died and been cut down. The rest will be soon. The wood  from two hundred year old Red Pines brings a lot of money on the lumber market. Where the wood has gone, who sold the wood, to whom and where the money went isn’t   mentioned.  That’s a story for another day.
I’ve been asking for about 9 years now why  Red Pines that have thrived for hundreds of years would die. Not that I knew 9 years ago they would die. But I did know something would happen because as close as 160 feet from the upper perimeter of the hillside cemetery, a Connecticut-based  company- Lane Construction began to expand gravel mining. I was thinking about pollution to the water aquifer under the mining operation, the noise level driving migratory birds away, the destabilization of the landscape which with enough rain could easily cave in, hundreds of caskets falling into some giant sinkhole.
The town Selectmen, Lane Construction, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection or  the State Mining Coordinator who grants permission for gravel mining could have ordered assessment of the damage from the gravel mining expansion . None of them did. The DEP Field Worker told me he had been ‘many times’ to the site. He later told the local newspaper he had never been there. The chair of the Environment and Natural Resources committee told me the gravel pit operators wouldn’t like it very much if that committee created legislation to eliminate the 5 acre waiver that allowed the mining operation to continue with no DEP oversight. Water and air quality damage, destruction of migratory bird life because of noise,  and of course death of the Red Pines  was ignored. The big-box store-purchased large children’s playground set given to the local school by Lane Construction  was the town’s ‘kickback’ for their silent collusion.
The Red Pines  died because their hundreds of year old deep deep root structure was destroyed. Google Earth shows how exposed the roots of those Red Pines were.  Killing them, driving migratory birds away, undermining the geology so a giant sinkhole appears that hundreds of caskets fall into  doesn‘t take all that long. Nine years. The number of years in jail government and municipal officials serve who  are convicted for ignoring environmental regulations is probably less than that.

The Cheap Shot in American Politics- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:26

We live in extremely violent times. Words can provoke aggression, insult and personal harm very quickly. Politicians spend much time trying to reassure us that they will protect our enormous bodily and psychological fragility with their policies and bravado. But the Cheap Shot gives it all away. And Bernie Sanders has quickly joined the fray- filling his pockets as best he can with what he hopes is political capital.

Then there’s, Donald Trump, who has used every form of cheap shot making known to polarize the electorate- i.e. ‘earn’ votes. He has nationalized cheap shot taking like we have never seen before. It kind of takes your breath away because there used to be a baseline assumption that overt disrespect was not silently accepted as kind of a political asthma we just had to get used to. It’s hard to find a one word slur he has not used to reduce his critics to objects- implying they are not worthy of any respect at all. ‘Pocahontas’ he called a tenured Harvard Law School Professor and United States Senator. As if the anonymity that word cast on Native American women for generations was deserved- they worthy of no mark of distinction or individuality for us to know who they are.
I am making a larger call is for us to stop the Cheap Shot making that now plagues American politics. Cheap shots always say more about the politician who makes them than they do about the person it’s tossed toward whether you are the Bernie Sanders supporter screaming them out at Hillary rallies or Sanders banking on the good will of American liberals to cover him while his rhetoric becomes increasingly hostile. Or Donald Trump banking on the limited attention span of the angry and cash strapped to ignore that the hostility he speaks of is generated by himself.
#Stopthecheapshots I say. Now.

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The Cheap Shot in American Politics: A Citizen’s Guide
-Susan Cook-
There’s a Maine office holder who I’ve privately given  a new last name. It’s ‘Cheap Shot.’ If the opportunity arises to take a Cheat Shot, this one will take it. You can call it verbal abuse, an abuse of another person’s attention, the public’s attention or the bully pulpit. Or an abuse of power. Or call it what it is-  a Cheap Shot when really the matter at hand is the responsibility of holding office- not using words to grab what you can of respect for other people.
Then there’s Bernie Sanders, gloating and baiting in the wake of the report calling Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal computer server to receive 30000 emails- none of which were identified as classified when they were sent- four- four of which have been classified subsequently.
The biggest revelation out of this non-scandal may be that Bernie Sanders takes Cheap Shots. It’s certainly true that Bernie’s supporters and the Republican Party are doing what they can to dig a deeper and deeper trench hoping it will not be them who falls in it come  November. There’s a good chance it won’t be Hillary.
I have never heard Hillary Clinton take a Cheap Shot. Even in the worst of her family’s very public, political times, she hasn’t done it. She’s tried to keep the facts straight- or at least find them.
We live in extremely violent times. Words can provoke aggression,  insult and personal harm  very quickly. Politicians  spend much time trying to reassure us that they will protect our enormous bodily and psychological fragility with their policies and bravado. But the Cheap Shot gives it all away. And Bernie Sanders has quickly joined the fray- filling his pockets as best he can with what he hopes is political capital.
Then there’s, Donald Trump, who has used every form of cheap shot making known to polarize the electorate- i.e. ‘earn’ votes. He has nationalized cheap shot taking like we have never seen before. It kind of takes your breath away because there used to be a baseline assumption that overt disrespect was not silently accepted as kind of a political  asthma we  just had to get used to.  It’s hard to find a one word slur he has not used to reduce his critics to objects- implying they are not worthy of any respect at all. ‘Pocahontas’ he called a tenured Harvard Law School Professor and United States Senator. As if the anonymity that word cast on Native American women for generations was deserved- they worthy of no  mark of distinction or individuality for us to know who they are.
It is tempting to call him  a stupid racist. That would be using cheap shots of course. I  am making a larger call is for us to stop the Cheap Shot making that now plagues American politics. Cheap shots always say more about the politician who makes them than they do about the person it’s tossed toward whether you are the Bernie Sanders supporter screaming them out at Hillary rallies or Sanders banking on the good will of American liberals to cover him while his rhetoric becomes increasingly hostile. Or  Donald Trump banking  on the limited attention span of the angry and cash strapped to ignore that the hostility he speaks of  is generated by himself.
#Stopthecheapshots I say. Now.

A Citizen's Guide to Acupuncture

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:54

Acupuncture is an ancient intervention for helping
raise "chi"- pronounced "GEE" in English. For those for whom acupuncture treatments have enhanced the "Gee", whose pain is freed, who feel better when their energy finally runs true, what a discovery! Well, re-discovery because it's been around 5000 years. But, once they try it, reality seems clearer! And who is not made better by a genuine, legitimate, valid check with reality?

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A Citizen's Guide to Acupuncture
-Susan Cook-
I love acupuncture. It's not one of those topics that show up in an online newspaper survey of  public opinion but acupuncture has been around for 5000 years. 
 
What is acupuncture?  It is an ancient Chinese medicine practice in which thin, thin, thin needles are inserted at points in the human body called "acupuncture points".  No, these very, very, very thin needles with razor-sharp points are not inserted deeply. Rather, they  reach only the special point which, with the provocation of the tiny needle's point,  smoothes the flow  of - I'll spell it out- "c-h-i". The English pronunciation of "c-h-i" is like the word "Gee" but the actual spelling is "c-h-i". 
When "chi" is stimulated by the tiny, very sharp points of the acupuncture needles, an invisible roadway that stretches from the northernmost part of the body all they way to the south, and from the farthest eastern points to the west, lights up.   What was once blocked, becomes  a river of insights, as the energy that was stuck and clogged up begins to run true. And this all because of a tiny, thin, thin needle inserted at the right place. Imagine! People become more clear-headed,  snapping back to reality. Insomniacs sleep. Back pain  lessens and the dizzy and unbalanced find their footing.
Now, some acupuncture treatment is covered by health insurance, for those who have it, because its healing benefits are well researched  for some illnesses.  But westerners are slow to accept the unknown- so not everybody is ready to try acupuncture - relying on pharmaceuticals and surgery. But for those for whom acupuncture treatments  have enhanced the "Gee", whose pain is freed,  who feel better when their energy finally runs true, what a discovery! Well, re-discovery because it's been around  5000 years.  But, once they try it,  reality seems clearer! And who is not made better by a genuine, legitimate, valid check with reality? 

The Abuse of Power Department

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:12

A new collection of observations from E.B. White, the Brooklin, Maine writer, has been culled by his granddaughter, Martha White. He was once described as a man who never "wrote a mean or careless sentence". That distinction falls to few in good times; during the Iraq War, more fell out of contention. Many saw the invasion of Iraq, as premised on a falsehood: that Weapons of Mass Destruction were hidden there, an evening of a political score tallied by one President, settled in the wrong country.
The enormous human suffering and sacrifice of Iraq will leave many granddaughters whose grandparents will never be known to them...

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The Abuse of Power  Department
-Susan Cook-
The departure of the last American troops from Iraq, thus ends  the Iraq War. 
Coincident  with this event, a new collection of  observations  from E.B. White, the Brooklin writer,  has been culled by his granddaughter, Martha White. He  was once described as a man who  never "wrote a mean or careless sentence".  That distinction falls to few in good times;  during the Iraq War, more fell out of contention. Many saw the invasion of Iraq, as premised on a falsehood:  that Weapons of Mass Destruction were hidden there,  an  evening of a political score tallied by one President,  settled in the wrong country. 
The enormous human suffering and sacrifice of Iraq will leave many granddaughters whose  grandparents will never be known to them. 
E.B. White regularly wrote  The  New Yorker  Newsbreak Department Heads,  in which itemized   life and world events  were placed in  "Departments".   For many, the Iraq War will always belong to  The Abuse of Power Department."
Abuse of power is certainly not limited to multi-billion dollar wars.  Anybody in a position to secretly or more flagrantly  hold someone else hostage to a belief, a misdeed or a perverse sense of entitlement  to  physically, sexually or emotionally exploit can take part. Mistruth and, yes, mean, careless sentences in the service of marshalling  the court of public opinion to one side or the other, falls into this department. People are always more interested in what is true but the truth we all know  is easily held hostage and abused by those in power.  The truth-teller can be four or forty. The hostage taker Saddam Hussein, a liar trying not to be found out or a local  newspaper. 
The Abuse of Power Department is one that our Constitution and Bill of Rights intend to close down. Those documents hinge on the belief that no one person or group can  abuse the rights of others or persecute them for acting on them, no matter how the thick the closed door to the conference room,  no matter how variegated the veins of the special interests leading to the real reason  an agenda is pushed so vigorously. The  documents say nothing about requiring big consequences before  we are awarded their protection. 
We don't  need to wait for the end of a war to see  or miss  daily opportunities to close down the Abuse of Power Department. White didn't like to leave Maine, once he got here. We don't need to travel all the way around the world before we pull out our pocket version of the Bill of Rights - a department closer if there ever was one- the maker of irrelevance and obsolecence and the best guide for speaking and acting, followed closely by one favored by White,  "A Basic Chicken Guide for the Small Flock Owner."

A Citizen's Guide to the Petty and Small-minded

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:29

As the dust settles from the Iowa Caucuses , it is time to sniff, dig and if necessary chew and swallow pettiness and small-mindedness where found. How to distinguish the petty and small-minded from the profound and truly significant? And yes, I am taking a lead from the dogs in creating this Citizen's Guide, specifically as they explore the yard.

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A Citizen's Guide to the Petty and Small-minded
-Susan Cook-
As the dust settles from the Iowa Caucuses , it is time to sniff, dig and if necessary chew and swallow pettiness and small-mindedness where found.  How to distinguish the petty and small-minded from the profound and truly significant?  And yes, I am taking  a lead from the dogs in creating this Citizen's Guide, specifically as they explore the  yard. If they chew it and it is still writhing, continuing to chew is profound. If they swallow  it and they can die after ingestion, it is profound and significant. It is or should be protected by higher  laws and principles beyond those of the  wrestling match  between what is lying out in the yard and what the dogs believe might be edible.  In fact,  the principled thought found in the Constitution probably applies. And the appropriate  action? Drop it. Leave it .  So what characterizes  petty and small-minded? That would be all the rest of what they  sniff, chew and feel obligated to swallow that is never missed  but may  surface again in a transformed, unrecognizable state or completely intact, ready for another go.

If Power Is An Aphrodisiac Than Unethical Staff Are Surgeons

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:30

Deception is something we need to claim as what we do not like in politics and political life. This is not claiming the moral high ground. This is seeking to return politics and politicians to a respectable level of credibility with the public. But their staff members have to be equally accountable.

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We may never know why John Edwards got into a compromising (or rather compromised, re-negotiated, compromised again and finally blackmailed) circumstance with Rielle Hunter.  His  staff's deception in personal , professional and public relationships,  however, zoom us to another level in viewing the journey of that substance called power through the human body. 
This is not a power pill that works its way out in sweat and perspiration when  staff man Andrew Young swallows it. This is a power pill that causes genetic and believe it or not historical mutations. Was it really just Andrew  Young  not wanting to lose his  job by not pleasing the boss or rather not pleasing the boss enough? Letting go of the vision of Himself- capital H- standing in the White House being important? 
Whatever happened to that other White House luminary who said  "I cannot tell a lie" whose food must have had a really tough journey through his body because he only had wooden teeth to chew it.  I'm talking about George Washington. 
Deception is deception is deception.  It is very, very sad. Telling people things that are not true is deception. Putting your name over things you have not written, done or stayed in a hotel with, is deception. Claiming  you did, wrote or fathered  what you have not is deception. 
It is not just deception when you get found out or it is recognized as Internet plagiarism. It is deception when you do it.  It says then, what it says after you are found out: that you really do not value people for their own sake, that you really think they are just something you swallow and suck nutrients from and then just let go, you know where. 
People are not just players in a lie, however elaborate. They are not a means to an end. They are the end. Deception is something we need to claim as what  we do not like in political life. This is not  claiming the moral high ground. This is taking our vitamins,  believing they work and hoping they do. 

If Power Is An Aphrodisiac, Unethical Staff Are Surgical Implants

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:39

The Presidency and being Presidential staff are not power pills that work their way out in sweat and perspiration after swallowing. They are power pills that cause genetic and believe it or not historical mutations. How do we remind ourselves and the public that the newly Powerful may give themselves permission to deceive? How do we hold a new President and his staff accountable?

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If Power Is An Aphrodisiac,  Unethical Staff are Surgical Implants
-Susan Cook-
You may remember a Democrat who got into a compromising (or rather compromised, re-negotiated, compromised again and finally blackmailed) circumstance and lied, distorted and  had his staff lie for him. That would be former Presidential candidate John Edwards and his circumstance with videographer Rielle Hunter.  His  staff's deception in personal , professional and public relationships,  however, zoom us to another level in viewing the journey of that substance called power through the human body. As Donald Trump takes The Oath, his staff’s willingness to lie for him  must also be a focus of our concern.
The Presidency and being Presidential staff are not power pills that work their way out in sweat and perspiration after swallowing. They are power pills that cause genetic and believe it or not historical mutations. Was it really just John Edwards’ staffer  Andrew  Young  not wanting to lose his  job by not pleasing the boss that led him to lie that he had fathered Rielle Hunter’s child? Too hard to let go of the vision of Himself- capital H- standing in the White House as Presidential staff - if Edwards won?
Whatever happened to that other White House luminary who said  "I cannot tell a lie" whose food must have had a really tough journey through his body because he only had wooden teeth to chew it.  I'm talking about George Washington.
Deception is deception is deception.  It is very, very sad. Telling people things that are not true is deception. Putting your name over things you have not written, done or stayed in a hotel with, is deception. Claiming  you did, wrote or fathered  what you have not is deception.
It does not become deception only when you get found out or it is recognized as Internet plagiarism. It is deception when you do it.  It says then, what it says after you are found out: that you really do not value people for their own sake, that you really think they are just something you swallow and suck nutrients from and then just let go, you know where.
People are not just players in a lie, however elaborate. They are not a means to an end. They are the end. Deception is something we need to claim as what  we do not like in political life. This is not  claiming the moral high ground. This is taking our vitamins,  believing they work and hoping they do.

A Citizen's Advanced Guide to Political Hostage Taking

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:49

Seldom do citizens witness the workings of that Refinery known as Political Hostage Taking. There is much to learn from the John Edwards' trial about how to recognize Political Hostage Taking when it is happening. There is hope that this Refinery in which what goes in at the beginning comes out at the end, cruder, dirtier and more likely to cause disease will be shut out of politics some day.

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                                 A Citizen's Advanced Guide to Political Hostage Taking
                                                                 -Susan Cook-
 
Seldom are citizens privy to the Refinery of political hostage-taking. It is an industrial process, which defies any environmental regulation because what you end with is dirtier than the crude you started with.  In the trial of John Edwards, we witness the political hostage taking of not John Edwards, not his unethical staff member Andrew Young. No, we are talking about Mr. Young's wife, Cheri Young.  
 
Let us not lose sight of the invaluable information this trial offers  about this Refinery process: the pith of creating political hostages, where someone who seems good and decent and loyal is turned into the conniving and self-serving.  
Step A:  First, someone in a "Leadership" position pretends there is a connection between two events, preferably with moistened  or tearing eyes or patriotic passion, flaring nostrils if at all possible. I say pretend there is a causal link between two events, even though there is absolutely no cause-effect connection between the two. This is accomplished  -again- with flared nostrils- tearing eyes- by declaring that a  possible election defeat, future of the country or actual or pending death or recent experience of near death are  intimately connected to the actions of a single person. It's  the Outside-Inside strategy or in Cheri Young's case the Inside-Inside strategy because she probably thought she was on  the Inside. Lo and behold the people who you'd  think she was on the  Inside with , like her husband, turned out to actually be on the Outside. I am glad they don't design airplanes this way.  
Enter  John Edwards asking  the wife of his staff member Andrew Young  to give the ultimate to her country, this being in John Edward's  eyes  synonymous with his Presidential bid-  "mirror mirror on the wall" kind of thing. What is the ultimate that Edwards asked her to give to her country? Not  a mere psychological transgression like "lusting in the heart" .   No, laid on the sacrificial altar of higher principle called John Edward's Presidential delusion  was a  permanent  sacrifice of Cheri Young's belief  that her husband would never do her wrong because Cheri Young would pretend that her husband had already laid something on the sacrificial altar when he really hadn't.  I think you know the rest.   I am glad they don't design airplanes this way.  
Here is John Edwards encouraging Cheri Young to fake her husband's betrayal: "It is good for America." "This is our time." And here comes the tearing of the eye: he did not want his wife Elizabeth to know about his affair  because "she was going to die soon", this 3 years before she died.
And so, a birth that Mrs. Young is actually involved in takes place: the birth of the Political Hostage.  Mrs.  Young says, "I did not want the campaign to explode and for it to be my fault. I  ultimately decided to live with a lie",  the Stockholm Syndrome creeps  victorious- the creeps being John Edwards and Mr. Young. They were now willing to imprison Mrs. Young by making her a prisoner of her own lies and charging her with responsibility for wounding Elizabeth Edwards and ruining John Edwards' campaign if she did not agree to step into the prison cell- all this for something she had absolutely nothing to do with.  
Step Two of Political Hostage taking is "Find Important Collaborators." Enter Lisa Blue,  John Edward's wealthy contributor, who as an "An Important Collaborator" taps into  Mrs. Young's somehow untainted loyalty to the protection of her children.  Lisa Blue says, "I am a doctor. Mrs. Edwards  is  not well. She is not mentally healthy and there is a great chance she would be a harm  to you or your family if you return to North Carolina."  The  additional threat  to Mrs. Young's children family is finally made by The Important Collaborator delivering once and for all the Political Hostage. 
Taking Political Hostages is really quite simple-  two  steps.  Or  three. The third is the person who caves and say "OK", sometimes their life or quality of life on the line.   Let us all hope that political organizations in their hiring find a way to weed out the unethical, the  mid and late-stage alcoholics,  to  find criteria that doesn't  end up with something cruder than what you started with. That is the person who says  "No,  I am not going to lie."  Maybe using those same criteria when  vetting candidates for office would also be ok in designing airplanes. 

Credibility in Business Casual: Sexism Wears a New Outfit

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:46

Much is heard about the new Republican attack on women, a not- so thinly veiled attack on credibility, the females, that is. Women, you may remember, require more “proof” that they are telling the truth than men do. Women’s credibility remains the non-credentialed, not appropriately dressed, inarticulate sweetspot where, when hit just right, sexism implants its tendrils and goes viral, its derision entitled, origin unknown, because we are talking about women.

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Much is heard about the "new" Republican attack on women,  a  not so thinly veiled attack on credibility, the females’, that is. Women, you may remember require more “proof” that they are telling the truth than men do. Women’s credibility remains the non-credentialed, not appropriately dressed, inarticulate sweetspot where, when hit just right, sexism implants its tendrils and goes viral, its derision entitled, origin unknown, because we are talking abut women.

Many women don’t realize that today’s war on women’s credibility is like that faced by Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearing either because they now have credentials that they hope protect their credibility or they were not old enough or not allowed to watch that spectacle as it unfolded on national television in the early 1990’s. During the hearings to admit Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, Anita Hill, an African-American attorney was subpoenaed to testify about the sexual harassment she endured at his hands at his previous job.

I still have my “I Believe Anita Hill” button. Many women don’t. Many men never got one in the first place. The smug confidence that Clarence Thomas evinced during those hearings has metastasized into complete silence, as he now sits on the Court.  He perhaps  now believes he doesn’t have to say anything  to have credibility as he has not said or asked any questions during the oral arguments for something like 6 years.  

Some believe that blatantly different standards for male and female credibility have gone away. We need go no further than the recent trial of John Edwards for federal campaign law violations for “proof” that sexism’s new  business casual dress does not mean standards have changed. 

Criminal law trials are about credibility. The “designer” proof presented by John Edwards that he was telling the truth was this: A video of his nationally-televised appearance lauded as his moment of truth-telling, the “tell-all” in which he stated that he had a brief affair with Rielle Hunter but it had ended and his unethical staffer had fathered her child.

 This “truth telling” explique was presented  to the jury as evidence that the man before them was really not telling the truth then, even though he said he was before a national television audience, but he was telling the truth now. This, strategized his defense team, was, yes, a wardrobe failure in credibility that would now be restored with that ever-trustworthy safety pin- the fact that John Edwards is a man. They knew that would hold up better than the fact that Edwards is a lawyer. One word captures how a woman engaging in such tactics would be characterized: Flighty!

The Credibility dress standard  is not the same for men and women.  Credibility remains an icon of sexism that presumes that women have to meet different standards of proof than men do.  There are cultural and social questions that we all must ask about the different standards for “proof” that apply to men and women, that are as unfair and unequal now as they were when Anita Hill was subpoenaed to testify about  Clarence Thomas. 

When we ask for proof from men and women, do we ask each of them, equally, no matter what the context, no matter who has been  privileged with the presumptive “truth-teller” status?  When the ” court of public opinion” is courted, really deep down, don't you think you can overlook what she says is true? That what everybody else thinks is better proof?  That any  other truth that she might offer is really just her reaching for a safety pin- when really- there isn’t one big enough to fill the gap?

 

A Citizens' Guide to The Brand: Democracy By Fear and Branding

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:55

The Constitution does not say "We, the Brand Consumer". It says "We, the... thinking , questioning, remembering, mind-changing, advocating and yes, voting... People". We are Constituents. But The Brand has become the new approach to getting a candidate elected.
Getting The Brand off the ballot, and the Candidate back on, is what we the People do simply by doing what we do: asking, questioning, remembering, trusting our perceptions, telling the truth and yes, voting.

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There is a suspicious-looking growth on that weed-tolerant perennial Democracy- sprouted from  some unknown air-borne spore. The growth is called "The Brand". "The Brand" is what  some candidates for public office seek to be- out of the belief that if their public image does not stick to your fingers, smells good  and doesn't require a long attention-span, they are elect able- without all the dense, cloying, sugary after-taste or vinegar-bite of our partisan-based political process.  In effect, they are candidates who are easy to swallow. With an ingredient-list that defies short sentences, reduced to a Brand:  Avuncular,  an RV-er who just wants to be friends who doesn't  really have any opinions about public policy except what’s in  his/her deeply opinionated but pensive-mind (which has been put on hold until after the election) and he/she only tells you then. 
Any Brand up-close is False. Ivory soap is not 99.9% pure. Pages of public policy lie behind every Wheaties box. What is the price of wheat these days? Is there still wheat in Wheaties?  How come? Organic? McDonald's adding fruit  and eliminating trans-fat  which most eaters could not define tells us that any brand is complex- when questioned.
When the  thought of telling the truth brings a feeling of fear and nausea, when Brand-mongerers call the Truth "going negative",  when what actually happened, what the candidate really left in his wake  is called "untrustworthy"- when we cannot trust our  perceptions  of  what the candidate is really like,  our Democracy is in big trouble. The Constitution does not say "We, the Brand Consumer". It says "We, the... thinking , questioning, remembering, mind-changing, advocating  and yes,  voting... People". We are Constituents. If you remember that a candidate was grouchy, it is because he was.  If you remember that someone's chief negotiating strategy was stone-walling and intimidation, it was.  The only thing Branders can do when The Brand starts to swerve off the taste-chart, is add water. That is not Democracy. Democracy is rich , salty, spicy, sometimes  sour, many tastes.  
Getting the Brand off the ballot, and the Candidate back on, is what we the People  do simply by doing what we do:  asking, questioning, remembering, trusting our perceptions, telling the truth and yes, voting.  Our political parties are not Brands- they are organizations. Top-down? Sometimes. Accountable to the people who- free of charge- by the way- join them?  Always. That  these free-to-join political parties persist- despite the best efforts of Branders to "buy" what political parties get their millions of  Grass-roots volunteers to do for free - says that the party-structured election process  still works. Brands are only what you see on the outside of the box. The grassroots of real Democracy are  what teems and  squirms and tunnels around inside. 

Here, There and Everywhere: Locally Upholding Human Rights

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:28

In this season of gratitude, speak. Uphold civil liberties, the human rights that we have, that others will travel thousands of miles for, and when you see them violated, no matter what the justification others may offer, speak up. Here, there and everywhere.

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Here, There and Everywhere: Locally Upholding Human Rights

"Civil Liberties is a product delivered locally", page 49 of my American Civil Liberties Union copy of the Constitution of the United States. These are our human rights.

We do not need to travel far to find countries where winning an election holds priority over upholding Civil Liberties. The New York Times tells about a Russian political critic Leonid Razvozzhayev- of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. who last week traveled to Ukraine seeking political asylum, “somewhere in the West” for a lawyer to file on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He was tracked, stalked, finally abducted and is now in jail. A political critic of Vladimir Putin- not a terrorist.

No one in this country- here, there and everywhere- should have to live in fear that they will be intimidated, derided when they exercise the right to free speech because of Amendment 1 which says "Congress shall make no law ...prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of people to peacably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

No one in this country- here, there and everywhere- should have to live in fear that they will be subject to surveillance, search or intrusive "background checks" because "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searchs and seizures shall not be violated."

Held together in the mind at the same time, this means: no one anywhere in this country should live in fear that if they speak freely in a peacably assembled group, they will have their privacy invaded by tracking, intrusive background checks, be intimidated, have the freedom of the press of this country harnessed to publicly invite others to embarrass or deride them or cast the person or their human rights as throw-aways".

That goes for the people you disagree with, for people who like what a Governor says and does, for the people who don't like what he says and does, for his staff and the public who attend any of his events, here, there and everywhere, in this country. People enrolled in a particular party want their candidate to win. I say never at the expense of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.

In this season of gratitude, speak. Uphold civil liberties, the human rights that we have, that others will travel thousands of miles for, and when you see them violated, no matter what the "entitled" justification of others, speak up. Here, there and everywhere.

Where Mean Spiritedness Hides- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:48

Spirits are invisible, never caught in the flesh, imaginary presence usually. Children think they hide under the bed, in dark places, the darkness a perfect place for mean spiritedness to hide. Unseen, mean spiritedness is accountable to no one.

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Where Mean Spiritedness Hides
-Susan Cook-
Spirits are invisible, never caught in the flesh, imaginary presence usually. Children think they hide under the bed, in dark places, the darkness a  perfect place for mean spiritedness to hide. Unseen, the mean spiritedness is accountable to no one.
Electronically, of course, there's spam and stolen passwords where the true writer of a message can lurk, saying mean things. Software can bring that mean spirit to light.
Then there are editorial pages, always anonymous, the Photoshop of accountability. Journalism ethics sometimes bring those mean spirits forth.
There are violent video game and violent television program producers. Nobody has really really ever able to get the mean spirit to come forth.
Then we listen to excuse after excuse from the Republican and Democratic Caucuses, about why they can't come to agreements. The mean spiritedness there hovers like monsters in the darkness, their paid staff feigning concern, as if they cannot see them.  
There are the gun sellers: the Wal-Mart gun procurers and all the gun stores who think the mean spiritedness will never come to light.
Until, some sunny morning, in the most unlikely place, it comes out of the darkness, all that mean spiritedness that everybody works hard to hide, comes out though the muzzle of a gun. And we wonder whether  there will ever be any light again and where that light will be found.  

The Maine Sniff Test

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:36

Let us pause and pine for those deeply scented pine-tree shaped air fresheners that hung from the rear view mirror, just small enough to avoid obstruction of the view but large enough to lend a rich aroma to the roomiest vehicle. One deep breath and you were transported to a clean, crisp, true Maine. They were a portable, pocket-sized IPOD of Maine goodness for all who speak, see or smell, the authentic Maine sniff test.

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Remember those deeply scented pine-tree shaped air fresheners that hung from the rear view mirror, just small enough to avoid obstruction of the view but large enough to lend a rich aroma to the roomiest vehicle?
One aromatic deep breath and you were transported to a clean, crisp, true Maine. They were a portable, pocket-sized IPOD of Maine goodness: a Maine Sniff Test. Where are they now, these reminders of the good outdoorsy odors of Maine? No olfactory camouflage of something that smells really foul as actually really fragrant- the opposite of what the thing really smells like.  No rapid switch- claiming that the backyard stench must be in- well- someone's else's backyard- not your own. Those little Pine Tree icons really smelled clean and good - to be hung from the rear-view mirror for all to see- not stuff under the car seat so no one would be misled as to where the smell was really coming from.
No, they were the Maine Sniff Test- a nice pine-knot above all the imported imitations that soon lost their fragrance because they were- really- poor imitators of clean Maine air. Let us pause and pine for those authentic Maine Sniff tests- the smell for the common, for all who speak, see or smell.  

Civil Liberties for Sexists: The Purity Ball and Prostitution Laws

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:45

Recently, a man convicted of aiding the prostitution of a young woman who was exploited by over 150 men, was given a 3 week sentence. This sentence from a female judge, on her toes not to appear you-know-what, invites men to pimp. Like the right wing conservative Family Research Council director who promotes "Purity Balls" where fathers sign virginity protection clauses with their daughters, the pimp's sentence devalues women's sexuality and their worth. Women, with all their glorious advancement, are still there for the dirtying, still there for male credibility to prevail when big decisions must be made, that is defining what a women is really worth and whether she can credibly make her own decisions, about her body or anything else.

For many women, in the world, in this country and in this state, their worth still lies not when they lean in, but when they lean back.

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Civil Liberties for Sexists: 
The Purity Ball and Prostitution Laws
There is such a thing as a "Purity Ball", an event where fathers sign a pledge to protect their daughters' virginity and then throw a  tuxedo/fancy ball gown event to announce it, tuxedo/fancy ball gown events being a grand way to exclude, discriminate and promenade superiority. A field director for the extreme right-wing conservative Christian group Family Research  Council, is a  Purity Ball promoter. The How-To Purity Ball packet costs $90. According to the New York Times, 3 of the man's daughters have written a book called "Pure Women".
Before you begin to swell with humanitarian, card-carrying ACLU  pride because you immediately recognize a sexist double- standard, put down your copy of the Bill of Rights. Remember? The amendment to bar discrimination based on gender failed to be ratified. 
The double standard for men and women reverberates, if not  thrives, in the legal system, or at least in the case referred to here. There are pure women and there are dirty women and men the most eligible to determine who fits which designation and who will carry a label or consequence for the "dirtying", or a better word, the "traumatizing". Please bear in mind that the childhood sexual abuse of females by men is estimated to effect 2 in 5 women. A  signature psychological consequence for  the victim is a sense of being irreparably made "dirty".
Here in Maine, Mark Strong the pimp who financially supported and viewed through a webcam in his office,  over 150 men sexually exploiting a young woman, was given a jail sentence of less than 3 weeks for his promotion of prostitution. 
The newspapers speculate that the young woman, who was sexually exploited by over 150 men, who was physically and emotionally traumatized by being penetrated over 150 times, has now struck a plea bargain. She will spend close to 1 year in jail,  because there are also  the absolutely non-negotiable income tax evasion charges.
This is what Mr. Strong's sentence from a female judge, on her toes not to appear you-know-what,  means. It is an open invitation to men to pimp. It is a confirmation of what groups like the extreme right wing conservative Family Research Council endorse, all be it from the other end of the "sexuality and women’s value “ continuum.
Women, with all their glorious advancement in the work place and six figure salaries and opportunity to compete with men in every arena, are still there for the dirtying, still there for male credibility  to prevail when big decisions must be made, that is defining what a women is really worth and whether she can credibly make her own decisions, about her body or anything else.
For many women, in the world, in this country and in this state, their worth still lies not when they lean in, but when they lean back.

Where D'ya Get That Hatred?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:13

Great affirmation of human purpose is the victory for those who watch the runners and wheelchairs racers come in at the Boston Marathon. They are all in it together because they chose to race. The world grieves the terrorization of that event. They question the "radicalization" of two brothers- the older maybe blocking the younger’s escape route for any hesitation the younger might have had.

Where did all that hatred come from?

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                 -Where D'ya  Get That Hatred?-
 
Great affirmation of human purpose is the victory for those who watch  the runners and wheelchairs racers come in at the Boston Marathon. They are all in it together because they chose  to race. The  world grieves the terrorization of that event. They  question the "radicalization" of two brothers- the older maybe blocking the younger’s escape route for any  hesitation the younger might have had.
Where did all that hatred come from? 
We hope that hatred is an anomaly. The deeply embedded desire to protect accompanies a sense of being part of each other,  community, a family, that anonymous collaboration called humanity. The depth of the desire to protect  our own, in this case, anonymous humanity  approaching the finish line at the Boston Marathon- is  as deep as our sense of  belonging to it, a sense of belonging to the group we will protect, be it ourselves or something bigger than that. 
Hatred may seep into  any tiny fracture in that sense  of belonging  and spread it apart as quickly as a  rock chip turns a windshield into a spider's web of glass  that cannot be repaired and will shatter. We don’t know for sure when the tiny chip of glass the rock took out will spread into a  web of fragility. We only know it happens. No one knows what breaks apart that sense of belonging. We know a little about how among babies and children it never catches in the first place but not a lot else.
But who among us would be the first to claim that they’ve never tampered with someone else's sense of belonging, tried to make them an outsider, like they didn't belong in this group or anywhere, that they were of no use to anyone? Once that sense of belonging cracks open, once what seemed like a solid expanse of glass begins to crack, there is no putting it back together, there is no sense of belonging anywhere. This  dead 26 yr old bomber said,  "I don't have any American friends". 
Where were the hints that the 26 year old was a violent man? His previous conviction on domestic assault and battery did not bring  this green card holder to the attention of Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials perhaps because domestic assault did not raise the attention of Immigration  authorities who would place him in a Detention facility. 
Any violent act raises the question of where the hatred comes from. But the larger the crack in the glass the greater the need for  self-justification. 
I read an Editorial,  presented to the public anonymously as they always are, that began  by publicly beseeching a woman to reveal the source of "corroboration" for a statement she had made at a public hearing  indicating that an elected official recorded constituents' phone calls.  The Editorial which derided this as an "antic", described her as "of no use to anyone" unless she yielded to this  public rhetorical pistol held to her head that she state  the supporting evidence.  The Editorial, inflammatory, was an invitation to animosity if not hatred toward  a woman who had made, in the spirit of free speech,  the claim that constituents were not being respected.
In this country, enrollment in a political party is a public and conspicuous gesture of belonging; the hostile derision of  those parties toward each other a media feast.  The justification for the hostility is that each one’s is better to belong to.  The source of the Editorial was not the political party of the politician the woman had criticized, but important spokespeople from her own political party, who already had been told that the corroboration came from a person of the "other" party. The important spokespeople, one of whom, sought election with support from both political parties,  felt that a grand tool of  political victory had been discovered: the ancient technique of  fomenting animosity if not hatred toward the same person or group.  They called it working across the aisle. 
Who would know where that  tiny pebble that started the crack that shattered the whole span of glass came from? Who would ever suspect that the hostility would be fostered by  someone sharing a sense of belonging to the same group, a political party?
A sense of belonging to what?  Which group? Humanity?  The human race?  Why would  anyone use  animosity toward another who shared a sense of belonging with them,  hoping others would keep the secret, be deceived  into  thinking the hatred  really came from  the other political party and hey, political parties do that all the time?!
This is time for reflection in this country in the glass now shattered. How do we recognize where hatred comes from? How do we  know how someone who shares a sense of belonging of say, being an American, could set that aside and engage in an act of hatred toward their own, hoping they would succeed in the deception, that no one would suspect them because, hey, they're all part of the same group?  That all that hatred came from somebody somewhere else?  Let us continue to ask that question: Where d’ya get that hatred? 

Where Have You Been My Blue-Eyed Son: The Problem With Term Limits

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:46

Mandated term limits for Congressional members gets batted around now and then as a possible solution for gridlock which some say is driven by the entitlement of power- not money- a perennially electable Congress acquires. Ok, maybe money, too.

In my state, term limits for the State Legislature and Constitutional officers, elected by the Legislators, were passed by an independently funded referendum in the early 90's. Two Legislative staff had been convicted of climbing through a State House window to deposit completed ballots in voting boxes during a special election for Legislative seats to keep their party in power. They were convicted and served jail terms. If power corrupts, absolute power will do whatever it has to, to stay where it is.
A major argument against term limits is that those who become the most influential in the law-making process are Legislative employees and paid officials and lobbyists.
So, how's it going?

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Mandated term limits for Congressional members  gets batted around now and then as a possible solution for gridlock which some say is driven by the entitlement of power- not money- a perennially electable Congress acquires. Ok, maybe money, too.
In my state, term limits for the State Legislature and Constitutional officers, elected by the Legislators, were passed by an independently funded referendum in the early 90's. Two Legislative  staff had been  convicted of  climbing through a State House window to deposit completed ballots in voting boxes during a special election for Legislative seats to keep their party in power.  They were convicted and served jail terms.  If power corrupts, absolute power will do whatever it has to, to stay where it is. 
A major argument against term limits is  that those who become the most influential in the law-making process are Legislative employees and paid officials and lobbyists.
So, how's it going? The current legislature has had a preponderance  of legislative efforts focused on  raising the salaries of those self-same legislative employees and officials, sprinkled with other legislators  dutifully falling in line  to support them.  It's not Gridlock, yet.  It's the parts you buy at the automotive store to install Gridlock. You scratch my back, I'll scratch your back and eventually, hey, you will be scratching my back again, whether you want to or think it's ethical or respectful or democratic or not. 
The session began with the newly- re-appointed officials and re-elected Constitutional Officers  (their party back in power)  who had been out-of-office for 2 years attempting to over-ride their now entry-level salaries by rolling them back to their $10,000 plus level of two years ago. Their  spokesperson announced "The Republicans did the same thing".
And now a  blurring of the constitutional distinction between the Judicial Branch and the Executive Branch. The Attorney General enlisted a legislator to amend a bill to allow the Attorney General to take over an Executive Branch function: setting  Assistant Attorney Generals' salaries.  You tell me- who will be scratching whose back, if not now, later?
If  salary-hyping seems self-serving, a  lack of respect of constituents is also present. 
A  Committee Co-chair mocked  a constituent by saying he was not a physicist but he didn't think Martians are going to invading Earth soon, this  in response to the constituent saying he was just a  Maine Guide offering what he saw from his point of view. Another  Committee Co-chair  refused to give the Governor of the State an opportunity to speak when he came to a Legislative hearing.
What will  remind legislators of how they got there and where they've been? And where have you been my blue-eyed son? 

A Citizen's Guide to Updating Your Truth

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:07

"Updating your truth" is a term not much used these days. We read that somebody "denied", "vetoed", "denounced", "maintained", "refused to consider", "filibustered", "opposed", "fended off", or "attacked". But we never hear that someone has "upgraded their truth".

"Updating the truth" might lead us all to be in better service to the truth, less frightened of the real information that presents itself and says "Give this some real consideration". We know that currently, people often don't seriously consider new information because there is no safe way for them to change their mind. In psychotherapy, its called "resistance". In developmental psychology, "updating your truth" is what children and adolescents do, profoundly, albeit with subtlety, when they reach 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 18,- whenever a great developmental epoch begins or ends. Isn't "updating your truth" what human experience is anyway?

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"Updating your truth" is a term not much used these days. We read that somebody "denied", "vetoed", "denounced", "maintained", "refused to consider", "filibustered", "opposed", "fended off", or "attacked". But we  never hear that someone has "upgraded their truth".
Each of the political parties present their positions  as "the truth", or near enough. Each and every one of us is often drawn in to the mire with them that "the truth" of these positions is incorrigible and irreversible and what the voters should vote for as "the truth".
A minister used the term "updating  your truth", to describe the times in her life when she did. How about that everyone - in either political party and those who would not go near a "political party" because they don't like their "truth" mongering -  is openly invited to "update their truth" as needed?
Of course, we know that even the idea of "updating the truth" these days implies that the person was lying or a weakling or indecisive and a sheep or a flip-flopper. 
How about that we all claim "updating the truth" as perfectly acceptable? Changing circumstances,  reality and what works in the world require that- the truth be updated. It usually isn't seized as  "failing", rather, it's seen as  adult wisdom.
The most frightening example of a truth sorely in need of updating is global warming. For those who have staunchly held to "their truth" that tornadoes, forty degree temperature shifts, hurricanes in places they never used to be,  are just part of a natural cycle, not a fore warning of the end of habitable earth, or much of what grows here,  how about encouraging them to update their truth? And maybe we could all make that  more palatable by not  bringing  down a whole raft of accusations when they do: flip-flopping, spinelessness, and generally threatening to amputate their credibility.
"Updating the truth" might lead us all to be in better service to the truth, less frightened of the real information  that presents itself and says "Give this some real consideration". We know that currently, people often don't seriously consider new information because there is no safe way for them to change their mind.  In psychotherapy, it's calls resistance. In developmental psychology, "updating your truth" is what children and adolescents do, profoundly, albeit with subtlety, when they  reach 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 18,- whenever a great developmental epoch begins or ends.  Isn't "updating your truth" what human experience is anyway? It starts out very personally. 
"Updating your truth" about God, Privacy and the Constitution, the Patriots' Act,  marriage, nutrition, broccoli, war,  any part of the world.  might lead to great changes. The  acceptance of "updating your truth" might get rid of gridlock and introduce a new voting category- yes, no or "maybe" without anybody calling out "flip-flopper", with gratitude that finally someone is truly interested in what is true.  

A Citizen's Guide to Freedom

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:58

The parades and camaraderie of the Fourth of July celebrate freedom.

This nation-wide celebration doesn't mean that the freedoms we have can’t be corrupted. Just this week, the Supreme Court eliminated laws originally intended to prevent states from interfering with the right to vote that has been broadly criticized as a corruption of our freedom to vote. What are the freedoms and rights of citizens?

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The parades and camaraderie of the Fourth of July celebrate freedom
This nation-wide celebration doesn't mean that the freedoms we have can’t  be corrupted. Just this week, the Supreme Court eliminated laws originally intended to prevent states from interfering with the right to vote that was broadly criticized as a corruption of our freedom to vote. 
What  are the freedoms and rights of citizens?
 -Freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the separation of church and state.
 -The right to equal protection under the law: equal treatment regardless of race, religion  or national origin.
 -Right to due process: fair treatment  by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
 -Right to privacy: freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal or private affairs.
 
Our  government and political infrastructure exist to uphold those civil liberties, including , freedom of speech.  When  citizens peaceably assemble to exercise freedom of speech, government officials or employees or elected politicians   who limit or threaten or intimidate or harass citizens  through “the court of public opinion” from exercising that basic right, are potentially corrupting that freedom. 
In my state, the Governor made comments recently that very crassly and almost pornographically defamed a legislator. While he was criticized as offensive, not one legislator called for his resignation. He was exercising his freedom of speech, albeit offensively.
Another citizen, at a public hearing criticized an elected  government official for a practice that intimidated constituents and through intimidation threatened their right to participate in this democracy.  Government  employees, political insiders and legislators orchestrated a media campaign demanding the citizen resign from a volunteer position within the political structure unless the citizen could provide "proof" of the practice, even though a small group of them had already been told what the proof  was
Freedom's infrastructure is  the government, political parties, elected politicians . That infrastructure exists to protect our  freedom not for self-gain or  to be on the team that wins with a hope of further self-gain down the road. In our country, it is ultimately our Constitution that holds that infrastructure to a higher standard if it falters in its own protection of freedom.
Chinese  Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiabo is serving an 11 year jail term for putting  a petition on the Internet, called "Charter 08". It is an eloquent  and wistful re-statement of the principles and freedoms of our very own Constitution.  Liu Xiabo writes "We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes." He says freedom of speech fundamentally prevents the corruption of freedom through the government infrastructure because when you have it, you can complain about the government  publicly.  On the Fourth of July, reading  Charter 08 might bring the celebration of freedom not corrupted a little closer to home. 

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How You Can Tell If a Government Is Becoming Corrupt

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:02

Remember the sixty second moral inquiry asks questions about what is the right thing to do. Today, we ask "How can you tell If a government is becoming corrupt? Let us ponder Illinois, the political corruption hotspot. Let us imagine that each now jailed politician stood and said loud and clear, "I only have one rule and that is if you have to cry, go outside." And several at the meeting jumped up and said, "No. You have the rules in the Bill of Rights, in Civil liberties, in the Constitution, Federal and State laws. Are you following those rules?" Which no one asked or did. So, what are questions of moral inquiry when it comes to government corruption?

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             The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How  Can You Tell If A Government is Becoming Corrupt?
                                                          -Susan Cook-
Today's sixty second moral inquiry asks, how do you know when a government or its leaders are corrupt or becoming corrupt? Let us ponder Illinois, the political corruption hotspot. Let us imagine that , each now jailed politician stood and said loud and clear, "I only have one rule and that is if you have to cry, go outside." And several at the meeting jumped up and said, "No. You have the rules in the Bill of Rights, in  Civil liberties, in  the Constitution, Federal and State laws. Are you following those rules?" Which no one asked or did. So,  government corruption questions?  Do the politicians and their government employees  put winning elections to keep their own jobs ahead of every other ethic? Telling the truth? Respecting constituents? Honoring human dignity and fairness in the legislative process?  Is information distorted or kept secret?  Is bribery, the money kind or “you do this for me/I’ll do that for you” accepted? If someone asks these questions, does the asker become targeted as "the problem"? 

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How To Tell The Difference Between Mudslinging and a Reality Check

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:01

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about what is right. Thinking about what is right sometimes means finding the question that needs to be asked. Today's moral inquiry asks: How do you the tell the difference between mud-slinging and a reality check when criticizing a politician's' actions? Daily, political life begs this question, and certainly former Congressman Weiner's cyber-sex (that's what it is called) activities do. So, what questions might we ask in our moral inquiry?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How To Tell The Difference Between Mud-slinging and  A Reality Check
                                                           -Susan Cook-
Asking questions about what is right , today's moral inquiry asks: How do you the tell the difference between  Mud-slinging and a reality check when criticizing a politician's' actions? Daily,  political life begs this moral question, and certainly former Congressman Weiner's  cyber-sex (that's what it is called) activities do. First of all, are the politician's  critics telling him something about reality that he might have missed or didn't know that the public already knows?  Are Mr. Weiner's critics referring to facts about what he's done that both political party's know of and can corroborate? Is there a reality about the offensiveness in his actions? Offensiveness as something that one would feel very very uncomfortable explaining to children under, say, the age of 10 or wouldn't want them to know. Is the criticism because the politician's actions are  just plain disrespectful to the public who first and foremost hired him  and the politician seems to have forgotten? 

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How Do We Know What Human Rights Are?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:00

Sometmes exploring what is right means finding the right question to ask. Today's Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks the question: how do we know what human rights are.

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How Do We Know What Human Rights Are?
-Susan Cook-
Today's Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How do we know what human rights are? No, we don't begin by asking is it liquid, solid or a gas or are they written only in a book. So we ask: Will the fundamental dignity of the person be compromised? Will the basic view that all beings deserve respect even the ones you don't like or disagree with or feel better than be tossed aside? Is basic respect for the person’s integrity at stake? Will the person not even be given an opportunity to voice the view or tell the account of events but rather be left off the email list or the Facebook message or the tweet or the letter to the editor? Even if the person lives in a little teeny country nobody cares about, are there things happening to that person that neglect respect, dignity, integrity of body or soul you ignore and refuse to include under the term “human rights”? 

A Citizen's Guide to Civility

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:36

To understand what civility is these days in times of tweets, smart phones, blogs and Facebook, we first have to look at "uncivil" and how "uncivil" comes to be.

There are three ways :
There's uncivil by you, yourself; uncivil by Chief of Staff or staff and Uncivil by Lawyer.

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A Citizen's Guide to Civility
-Susan Cook-
To understand what civility is these days in times of tweets, smart phones, blogs and Facebook, we first have to look at "uncivil" and how "uncivil"  comes to be.
There are three ways :
There's uncivil by  you, yourself, saying something offensiveness. No, we're not talking about the truth here, we're talking about descriptive terms about a person or situation that are offensiveness,  words you would be uncomfortable explaining the meaning of to- say- a child under ten. 
Then there's "Uncivil by Chief of Staff or Staff". "Uncivil by Chief of Staff or Staff"  means you don't say or do it yourself. Your Chief of Staff or Staff do it for you.   Your Chief of Staff or Staff call their contact and "Voila", whatever humiliating, degrading thing you want put in the newspaper or said or done, is done. Did I say blindly loyal contact? Oh yeah, blindly loyal contact. This can be pulled off with such detached but entitled derision that no one will ever know it was you, that say, caused the  target of the humiliation or derision who maybe even suffered a stroke afterwards to become permanently disabled.  You will never have to say "Good job!" to your Staff or Chief of Staff. All you have to do is re-hire them over and over, as if you didn't know.
Then there's "Uncivil by lawyer". "Uncivil by lawyer" means you hire lawyers to do it for you. You know how the justice system works here. If someone has to hire a lawyer, they have to have the money to pay the lawyer otherwise you win and thereby have success by having your "Uncivil  by lawyer" mudslinging, shall we say, completed.
"Uncivil", "Uncivil by Chief of Staff or Staff", and "Uncivil by lawyer" mean that if you ever decide you want to seek higher office, you cannot run on a platform with "Civility" as a plank because, surprise, surprise, that plank will not hold you up because it is worn, chewed up, the wood is rotten and about to give way. That's how we know what civility really is.

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How Can You Tell If You're Being Disrespected?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:08

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about how to know right and wrong. Today's question: How can you tell if you are being treated disrespectfully?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry's focus today to think explore right and wrong? 
We asks: How Can You Tell If You’re Being Disrespected?   You’re a thinking, feeling human being but just because you feel it in your gut, it doesn't make that enough to say "Hey, I'm being disrespected!". Groups gone viral (infected by someone‘s entitlement) stop asking questions. So, have you been asked questions and have your answers been accurately and completely repeated to others OR have they been distorted, edited? Have you been told "You don’t have any facts. No more public statements" "Let it lie" from an Attorney General-type or an aspiring lawyer? You don’t need  witnesses who take a no-perjury oath before your facts are treated respectfully. Human decency is obvious! Next, have those being disrespectful given themselves permission without once calling, tweeting, emailing, or texting,  as if you are invisible? And finally, is there one person anywhere in the universe really, who sees it  is disrespect, who feels it in the gut and doesn't need a lawyer to know disrespect is about what is  right and what is wrong.  

Mean-spirited Is A Political Issue

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:13

The mid-term elections are almost upon us. Now that Obama care is working, what political issues might be nearby? What will help us make good choices among Republicans, Democrats and those trendy Independents? What issue cuts across the political landscape and party lines, not already written into party platforms or any independent's desperate attempt to sketch a silhouette starkly differentiating themselves from their partisan opponents?
Well, how about whether the candidate is or has been mean spirited in carrying out their political agenda?

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Mean-spirited is a Political Issue
-Susan Cook-
The mid-term elections are almost upon us. Now that Obama care is working, what political issues might be nearby? What will help us make good choices among Republicans, Democrats and those trendy Independents? What issue cuts across the political landscape and party lines, not already written into party platforms or any independent'sdesperate attempt to sketch a silhouette starkly differentiating themselves from their partisan opponents?
Well, how about whether the candidate is or has been mean spirited in carrying out their political agenda? You know, refusing to compromise even if the entire roster of federal employees and the services they offer must be suspended because the budget can't be passed? 
And there are other examples. The country is world-weary of politicians-
-calling the President a liar
-calling other politicians murderers
-disregarding the needs of millions for health care and a way to pay for it
-treating their opponents in a demeaning way, for example, hiring videographers to track and invade the privacy of other elected politicians so as to "embarrass" them 
-ignoring how their own business activities with human rights violating countries like China, as if passively doing business with a human rights violating country and not taking a stand against their policies doesn't collude with human rights violations?
A candidate told me one time to "bring it on" after I asked him about his business dealing with the Chinese and his acceptance of the Chinese track record for human rights violations.
In my state we watched one of our few never mean-spirited political candidates be accused over and over of causing the state's problems.
All of the above are a mean-spirited approach to the political process. None represent respect for humankind or respect for the responsibilities of elected positions. They come from a place of entitled derision that some politicians give themselves permission to indulge in.
The country is tired of it. In these midterm elections, if the voter’s slogan is "Mean-spirited? Not my candidate" maybe Gridlock in Congress and State government, will become not a wish list item but reality. Already got a candidate who has never been mean-spirited in political life? Send that politician to Congress or better yet, to your state capitol. Then you’ll be able to watch the News knowing you did your part. 

Mean-spirited Is A Political Issue

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:13

The mid-term elections are almost upon us. Now that Obama care is working, what political issues might be nearby? What will help us make good choices among Republicans, Democrats and those trendy Independents? What issue cuts across the political landscape and party lines, not already written into party platforms or any independent's desperate attempt to sketch a silhouette starkly differentiating themselves from their partisan opponents?
Well, how about whether the candidate is or has been mean spirited in carrying out their political agenda?

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Mean-spirited is a Political Issue
-Susan Cook-
The mid-term elections are almost upon us. Now that Obama care is working, what political issues might be nearby? What will help us make good choices among Republicans, Democrats and those trendy Independents? What issue cuts across the political landscape and party lines, not already written into party platforms or any independent'sdesperate attempt to sketch a silhouette starkly differentiating themselves from their partisan opponents?
Well, how about whether the candidate is or has been mean spirited in carrying out their political agenda? You know, refusing to compromise even if the entire roster of federal employees and the services they offer must be suspended because the budget can't be passed? 
And there are other examples. The country is world-weary of politicians-
-calling the President a liar
-calling other politicians murderers
-disregarding the needs of millions for health care and a way to pay for it
-treating their opponents in a demeaning way, for example, hiring videographers to track and invade the privacy of other elected politicians so as to "embarrass" them 
-ignoring how their own business activities with human rights violating countries like China, as if passively doing business with a human rights violating country and not taking a stand against their policies doesn't collude with human rights violations?
A candidate told me one time to "bring it on" after I asked him about his business dealing with the Chinese and his acceptance of the Chinese track record for human rights violations.
In my state we watched one of our few never mean-spirited political candidates be accused over and over of causing the state's problems.
All of the above are a mean-spirited approach to the political process. None represent respect for humankind or respect for the responsibilities of elected positions. They come from a place of entitled derision that some politicians give themselves permission to indulge in.
The country is tired of it. In these midterm elections, if the voter’s slogan is "Mean-spirited? Not my candidate" maybe Gridlock in Congress and State government, will become not a wish list item but reality. Already got a candidate who has never been mean-spirited in political life? Send that politician to Congress or better yet, to your state capitol. Then you’ll be able to watch the News knowing you did your part. 

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: Why Not Mangle the Information If You Can?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:04

The Sixty-Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about what is right and wrong. Today's Sixty-Second Moral Inquiry asks: Why not mangle,`distort the information, if you can? If we all have the ability to think, isn't it each person's responsibility to find out for themselves? Why not pick and choose the facts you like and the facts you don't, selectively leaving out the ones you don't?

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The Sixty-Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about what is right and wrong. Today's Sixty-Second Moral Inquiry asks: Why not mangle,`distort the information, if you can?
If we all have the ability to think, isn't it each person's responsibility to find out for themselves? Why not pick and choose the facts you like and the facts you don't, selectively leaving out the ones you don't? Why not act like they're the only facts in town? Why bother getting the whole story, asking, calling "So what is this about?" Why bother looking at the past if it means that the facts show a reality that you prefer not to acknowledge? Even if the facts (if you're not told to keep it to yourself) give a picture like one you never ever saw before, one you'd rather not see, even if it's your job to come as close as you can to the truth, that wild horse that once you catch him, see that the world is a far better place with that wild horse, truth in it?

A Citizen's Guide to Political Gamesmanship and Environmental Contamination

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:50

Winning is the short view of Political gamesmanship.Fake news creation is part and parcel of it. Environmental contamination is the long view when environmental policy is on the table. In many environmental policy decisions, the environment takes a back seat to the political gamesmanship at play, including creation of fake news. Recently 2 examples of environmental issues tainted by fake news in Maine showed up.

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Pennamaquann Lake is the largest watershed in Washington County. In 2009, an out-of-state construction company, with no Department of Environmental Protection regulation set up an asphalt plant in the center of a gravel "mining" operation. Gravel pits, by geologic definition sit over water aquifers. Asphalt plants emit, by industrial definition, arsenic, mercury, lead and other heavy metal toxins. Asphalt plants also smell and are extremely loud, thus, migratory songbirds which, by definition, make and hear songs to survive, suffer in their presence.  The Department of Environmental Protection exempts gravel pits that have not expanded more than 10 acres since 1970 from regulation. This is an environmental loophole.
It does not matter if the gravel pit, which holds the asphalt plant, which by definition needs gravel to make asphalt, sits across from wetlands, is near federally-protected wildlife preserves, violates a local comprehensive plan, or is a destination for rare, endangered wildlife, all of which apply to the gravel pit on Pennamaquann. There is no DEP oversight. 
The environmental contamination of natural resources that go along with an asphalt plants' construction are not exempt from the other loophole that can rise in regulation.  Political Gamesmanship. 
Political gamesmanship is the trading of votes,  support for an issue, jobs or  advocacy for personal gain or election or re-election to a position by those you are trying to gain favor with- who can be any one who can help you secure the vote or the job or the personal gain. It can include citizens. It also can limited to the insiders in the political world. Please don't tell me this comes as a surprise.
Like environmental contamination, it can be a toxin producing process, with no oversight. In political structures, the state legislature, Congress, the organization of political parties, those who have a vote or those who have gained enough influence are those who provide oversight of the political gamesmanship that may be taking place. 
Let's say, one of the political gamesmanship players, a legislator, has effectively silenced those "voters" by intimidation, for example, allowing the common knowledge to prevail that if citizens call to complain about an issue, their calls will be recorded.  That'll stop the complaining or at least the phone calls, so if let's say a citizen ignorant of the "common knowledge" calls, the legislator can say "No one else called me", and thus justify not doing anything.
Let's say, one of the political gamesmanship players decides to sit on facts or information so they can better use the situation for their own gain, a job, for example or election to a position by those insiders. That’s a very effective political gamesmanship technique for disregarding the complainer's "vote" or voice. And yes, use the opportunity for personal gain if for no other reason to demonstrate, my, my, my, what a good political gamesmanship player you are. 
The asphalt plant, on the edge of Pennamaquann Lake, the largest watershed in Washington County, emitting toxins, including arsenic, which is scientifically linked to bladder cancer, which is the most prevalent kind of cancer in Maine, continues to contaminate.
At every turn, political gamesmanship has stopped action. (See: www.birdsnotlane.com)
Gravel pits and asphalt plant construction fall to one decision-maker ultimately in Maine- one- the state mining Coordinator.  The Mining Coordinator who automatically approved the Pennamaquann Lake asphalt plant has never been there.
The Political Gamesmanship that has stalled any action on Pennamaquann Lake could be called a missed opportunity to prevent environmental damage at a new mining site proposed by the Irving Corporation in Aroostock County.
Rural, pristine parts of the state, like Aroostock County where the "open-pit mining" project at Bald Mountain is proposed depend on local citizens to speak up. There are many ways to intimidate citizens in rural areas. One way is by demanding “proof“ for any statements they make. The person you disagree with may be the person  who could help you fix a flat tire on a remote  rural road. Taking a stand against an industrial project that promises economic development means taking a stand against your neighbor who doesn't have a job. Rural citizens rely on the honest non-gamesmanship of representatives. 
The Bald Mountain open-pit mining project will be reviewed t a legislative hearing in a few weeks. This project is  just as vulnerable to political gamesmanship as any other environmental threat.  The drainage into water aquifers and water sources from that mine will eventually acidify, thus contaminate the Fish River, Eagle Lake and major water supplies there, with the ancillary cost to wildlife and tourism. Eventually. "Eventually", by definition, means our children's children's children; our nephew's children's children and on and on. 
Political gamesmanship has already come to play in the environmental  contamination that Bald Mountain promises. Election, re-election and jobs not for citizens but for the insiders are  already on the table. Whether they will remain true to their job definitions, which by definition means respecting constituents, to not demand “proof“ but respect commitment to the environment, we don’t know. The card in any Political gamesmanship player's pocket is to attack the credibility of the complainer. That is up to each and every one of us to refuse. Winning is the short view of Political gamesmanship. Environmental contamination is the long view.

A Citizen's Guide to Passion and Political Gamesmanship in Democracies

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:47

The protesters in Ukraine are showing us on a very public stage that criticism free from harassment and ridicule of the actions of public elected officials is or should be what a democracy allows. The protesters in Ukraine, those who we memorialize for their passion and those who stand and testify through their actions remind us that what we have in this country is always up for grabs- if not from foreign threat but from each other. We really do not know how democracy sustains itself here. Speaking up is dismissed as “passion”. Passion is the code word for somebody who doesn’t know that the preferred approach is Political gamesmanship even as it erodes- day in, day out, as we see in Congress and state governments the democracy we live in.

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A Citizen's Guide to Passion and Political Gamesmanship
-Susan Cook-
In 2011, a Congressional Re-districting hearing was held in Maine. The public was asked to testify about a proposed plan to shift 350,000 voters from one Congressional District to another, a plan clearly intended to create a majority of registered Republican voters in one district.
And this is what I said:
The plan to shift 350,000 citizens from one Congressional district to another represents a disregard for constituents right to participate in this Democracy and indeed disregard for democracy itself. This is more of a disturbing trend we have seen of inflated partisanship at the cost of fairness and balance, more disregard for the voice of citizens.
Other examples are the recent passage to eliminate same day voter registration making it far more difficult for citizens to vote, a concern  I have heard throughout the collection of signatures to give participants in our democracy a chance to be heard on their desire for same day registration.
The most disturbing example is the fact that the [then] President of the Maine Senate records constituents' phone calls- without their consent and indeed without even announcing... that the call will be recorded. The consequence? Intimidation of constituents so they dare not call.
This re-districting proposal is yet another effort to intimidate  voters, to say, we don't like how you vote so we are going to force you to vote for someone else.
Sound familiar? Sound like democracy disregarded? You bet. Like Ukraine, like any other country where democracy is not respected- where the consequence of voting is imposition of all possible obstacles- like the elimination of Congressional districts to suit the party in power.
Do I have to say it? Shame on you for trying to move 350,000 voters because you don't like the way they voted. Shame on lawmakers who record constituents' phone calls to intimidate them and make them fearful of voicing their views. Democracy deserves our best not manipulation. The people here who speak against moving 350,000 citizens to accommodate your manufactured district deserve far, far better.
Fast forward to February of 2014. Upwards of 200 protesters have been killed by Ukrainian police at the Independence Square protest site in Kiev because of their ongoing protest of President Victor Yanokovitch and his efforts to ally Ukraine with Vladimir Putin’s Russia . Yanokovitch has steadfastly refused to follow his promise to ally Ukraine with the European Union.  Upwards of 200 protesters have been killed, protesters who- yes - with passion- no vast political tactics and gamesmanship- who have  very clearly rejected the Putin alliance Yanokovitch proposes.
It is not very often we see passion taking the lead over political gamesmanship or rather the two working hand-in-hand. It is not very often that democratic protest is thwarted on the world stage- in such a public way.  More often, another country’s problem with maintaining democracy is their problem. Political gamesmanship is chosen over principle, ethics and values.
We  have arrived at the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” question in this very brief commentary. Here it is, a multiple choice:
which statement in my 2011 testimony grew cries of “scurrilous”,  “a personal attack“, “what planet is she on?”,  demands of “Proof! Proof!“, “A Tactic without strategy” and indeed a petition sent to the local newspaper editor by our party go-alongs demanding my resignation from volunteer political office?  Was it- renunciation of efforts to make it harder for voters to register? Was it- disregard for constituents’ right to participate in democracy? Was it  the statement that in Ukraine  if they don’t like who you vote for they will give you someone else to vote fo- that a plan moving 350,000 voters in a state with only 2 congressional districts is kind of like that? 
Give up?  The statement that was called scurrilous, a “personal attack” was the criticism of the elected public official not his private life- his approach to public duties. The protesters in Ukraine are showing us on a very public stage that criticism  free from harassment and ridicule of the actions of public elected officials is  or should be what a democracy allows. The protesters in Ukraine, those who we memorialize for their passion and those  who stand and testify through their actions remind us that what we have in this country is always up for grabs- if not  from foreign threat but from each other. We really do not know how democracy sustains itself here. Speaking up is  dismissed as  “passion”. Passion is the code word for somebody who doesn’t know that the preferred approach is Political gamesmanship even as it erodes- day in, day out, as we see in Congress and state governments the democracy we live in. 

A Citizen's Guide to the Civil Liberty Called Freedom of the Press

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:36

The civil liberties of the Constitution are wholesome, pure, and good. They sometimes require holding two ideas in the mind at the same time, not easy some days. And they can be exploited. Freedom of the press, our reliable civil liberties vacuum for the unseemly and dirty then placed on public display can be exploited very easily. The exploitation is non-partisan, can come from either side because civil liberties are non-partisan.

Even the venerable newspaper editor Abe Rosenthal at the even more venerable New York Times distorted facts about the iconic example of urban social decay, the Kitty Genovese murder, by claiming that more than a dozen passive bystanders listened for a very long time to her screams and did not call the police. In fact, there were only two, who thought it was a domestic dispute, a man beating a woman, which was not then and yes even to this day is often not- considered an entirely atrocious act calling for police intervention.

Here in Maine, what does the civil liberty "freedom of the press" mean in the wake of revelations that the upper echelons of state government with held and then shredded public information about the rating system for giving out "Healthy Maine Partnership" fund. Shall we soon expect some chest-thumping about which party civil liberties truly belong to?

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A Citizen's Guide to the Civil Liberty called Freedom of the Press
                               -Susan Cook-
The civil liberties of the Constitution are wholesome, pure, and good. They sometimes require holding two ideas in the mind at the same time, not easy some days. And they can be exploited. Freedom of the press, our reliable civil liberties vacuum for the unseemly and dirty then placed on public display can be exploited very easily. The exploitation is non-partisan, can come from either side because civil liberties are non-partisan.
Even the venerable newspaper editor Abe Rosenthal at the even more venerable New York Times distorted facts about the iconic example of urban social decay, the Kitty Genovese murder, by claiming that more than a dozen passive bystanders listened for a very long time to her screams and did not call the police. In fact, there were only two, who thought it was a domestic dispute, a man beating a woman, which was not then and yes even to this day is often not- considered an entirely atrocious act calling for police intervention. The public bearing witness to degradation of a woman is still often fair game. 
Here in Maine, what does the civil liberty "freedom of the press" mean in the wake of revelations that the upper echelons of state government with held and then shredded public information about the rating system for giving out "Healthy Maine Partnership" funds, you got it, money. Shall we soon expect some chest-thumping about which party civil liberties truly belong to?
With holding the public facts, sitting on them, or shredding them, is exploiting freedom of the press because public facts go out to the press. If there was no difference between truth and fiction, freedom of the press might not uphold democracy as it does. Not sit on the facts is a good place to begin to protect it.  There is plenty of room behind freedom of the press to create fake negative press. This isn't fake traffic jams, New Jersey-style "civil liberties". At least there, y had the good sense to not rehire the exploiters. No, it's fake negative press proxy-style. There is plenty of room behind the civil liberty called "freedom of the press" to send complete falsehoods to the press,  generating fake buzz, using strong, inappropriate words to deliberately distort.  There is plenty of room to believe that communication means selective distortion sent to the media for the sake of the buzz.
And the civil liberty called freedom of the press offers quite good camouflage to protect you from being discovered- until- yes, often times it's because of freedom of the press- the truth is told. 
So how do we protect freedom of the press from shredders and deliberate distorters? How do we select for the complex ability to hold two ideas in the mind at the same time? For example that freedom of press means the message goes out AND that fake proxies, selective, "sitting on" or shredding or destroying key information or "facts" violate the civil liberty called freedom of the press.  Period. Civil liberties are non-partisan. When someone tries to claim that civil liberties belong to one political party more than another, another complex problem of holding of two ideas in the mind at the same time comes up. While one party is busy sending false proxies out to the media, at the expense of the civil liberty called freedom of the press, the other party may just be acting with the decency we expect from partisans who also uphold civil liberties. The other party might be the bystanders who say "Back off. Enough. You are violating civil liberties."  If  the partisan chest-thumping begins about the top government officials distorting facts or shredding them, here in Maine, "the other party does it too" is nobody's good reason for violating the civil liberty called freedom of the press.  Civil liberties are non-partisan. And exploiting them on either side is an equal "attack" on democracy.

Telling the Truth With Twigs and Baling Wire

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:50

I am a great admirer of bird nests and those who build them. They make them with twigs, string, down. You find them sometimes nestled inside the angle a piece of twisted baling wire makes found in a pasture or barn. You can see when you find one that it's labor intensive. I heard someone say recently that she collected bird nests but "only ones that had made it through the winter." Of course, that means that bird - if she made it through the winter-who comes back to look for the nest will have to start all over again.

Telling the truth is like that. There are those who build it from twigs and baling wire and no matter how hard someone tries to say that it's critical for survival, somebody will come along and take it down and you have to start all over again.

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Telling the Truth with Twigs and Baling Wire
-Susan Cook-
I am a great admirer of bird nests and those who build them. They make them with twigs, string, down. You find them  sometimes nestled inside the angle a piece of twisted baling wire makes found in a pasture or barn. You can see when you find one that it's labor intensive. I heard someone say recently that she collected bird nests but "only ones that had made it through the winter." Of course, that means that bird - if she made it through the winter-who comes back to look for the nest will have to start all over again.
Telling the truth is like that. There are those who build it from twigs and baling wire and no matter how hard someone tries to say that it's critical for survival, somebody will come along and take it down and you have to start all over again.
I heard a performance called "The Thinking Heart" by 2 Maine poets and a cellist,  created from the diary of Etty Hillesum, the young Dutch writer who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau at the age of 29 but left behind her work, first published as "An Interrupted Life" and now in a longer unexpurgated volume. Their performance in a small room at the library was stunning, the words, the music of the cellist, each performer's heart called in as the dramaturge for a woman who died in 1943. She, no longer there, their performance is the sound of one hand clapping. It is telling the truth with twigs and baling wire as Etty Hillesum had done with paper and pen. Her diaries are the only way we know now what happened there. As a member of the Jewish Council, she was privileged by the Nazis to travel back and forth from Amsterdam to the "holding camp" where Jews were held before they were sent to the death camp. She was doing good for evil not incidental to her own survival. She died too.
She makes observations about the politics of power and wonders aloud why the allies didn't bomb the railroad tracks, knowing full well that the Nazis were able to transport Jews to concentration camps only because the railroad tracks were intact.  Of course, the railroad owners were the wealthy. Always and eternally there is someone who chooses to see something as less important and does not listen to hear or see  what the big picture might be or maybe it's just self- interest taking priority.  There were industrialists who didn't,  Schindler for one.  But still, you have to ask, how none acknowledged the entitled derision of the Jews and the extremely obvious deportation - by railroad, not bus or horse-drawn wagon. Why were only people with access to twigs and  baling wire able to telling the truth?  Why didn't those with access to the large machinery of public knowledge come forth and declare a very simple observation "Jews are being transported to concentration camps on the railroad." Why?
The machinery of public knowledge, for telling of the truth can be corrupted too.  Who would think that wide scale corruption of the truth- which remains the best  reference point for humanity's survival for what to do or not do- could be sold - for a paycheck- to those who will promote with no ethics or values attached- personal agenda?
We don't need to travel too far out of this country or state to find individuals perfectly willing to do that. In this day and age they are not government employees sneaking behind enemy lines. They are Communication employees who have mastered the railroad technology of our day, the Internet.  Our distinguished Senators and Congressional Representatives,  our Governors and paid political strategists all have their Directors of New Media Communications, their web designers, their pinetreepolitics.com and asmainegoes.com websites to distort or defame the truth. On the government dollar, at the convenience or whim of the power player, the "distinguished" US Senators  or government official or employee ever vigilant of their own interest ready to do what will with the truth.  They  are entitled to use government funds to manipulate the railroad of our time, the Internet, to do what they will with the truth. Most of us are left with twigs and baling wire, with no  way of knowing whether some greedy voyeur is going to come and take the truth away. 
The people who made the Constitution and our Civil Liberties in the first place only had access to  twigs and baling wire: the voice, word, the written statement, the pen, the pencil, the parchment, their mind, the heart and the five senses. Maybe those documents are the reason the myriad of abuses  of truth and human integrity we see in this country get tripped up sometimes. Maybe those documents are the bird who places the nest beyond human reach or Etty Hillesum throwing one last postcard off the final train that somebody mails. They are, years later, three people in a small library bringing back to life, the truth, the sound of one hand clapping.  

A Citizen's Guide to Entitled Derision

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:04

When politicians talk about "working across the aisle", they talk about it as if they are endorsing a great ethic. But working across the aisle is not an ethic. It's a carpentry essential. Its absence contributes to a structural failure of the institutional structure . We witness how badly the legislative process in Congress now sags.

But if working across the aisle isn’t an ethic, where are the real ethics in contemporary politics? When did entitled derision - the disrespectful messaging politicians daily speak- written for them by their Communications Directors and Directors of New Media- replace an ethic of respect?

Of course you might ask "What's wrong with entitled derision?" “Doesn‘t it“, as I heard one party hack say, a law school student nodding her head in agreement- "depend on what they did." Entitled derision is - after all- the belief that you are entitled to demean, insult or degrade the other because of what the person believes, says, does or votes. Distinguished candidates, senators and representatives using the language their Communication Directors and Directors of New Media write for them do it. Just taking part in the democratic process, in someone else’s view, justifies entitled derision and justifies making the candidate or the other legislator a target.

We see it in state, local and national government and politics. At all levels. We have also seen it in Northern Ireland, in Cambodia, in Tibet, in Vietnam, at Abu Grabh, and yes we saw it in Nazi Germany because someone convinced someone else the insulted, demeaned, derided "deserved" it. Entitled derision.

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A Citizen's Guide to Entitled Derision
-Susan Cook-
When politicians talk about "working across the aisle", they talk about it as if they are endorsing a great ethic.  But working across the aisle is not an ethic. It's a carpentry essential.  Its absence contributes to a structural failure of the institutional structure . We witness how badly  the legislative process in Congress now sags. 
But if  working across the aisle isn’t an ethic, where are the real ethics in contemporary politics?  When did entitled derision - the disrespectful messaging politicians daily  speak- written for them by their Communications Directors and Directors of New Media- replace an ethic of respect?
Of course you might ask "What's wrong with entitled derision?" “Doesn‘t it“, as I heard one party hack say, a law school student nodding her head in agreement- "depend on what they did." Entitled derision is - after all- the belief that you are entitled to demean, insult or degrade the other because of  what the person believes, says, does or votes.   Distinguished candidates, senators and representatives using the language their Communication Directors and Directors of New Media write for them do it. Just taking part in the democratic process, in someone else’s view, justifies entitled derision and justifies making the candidate or the other legislator a target. 
We see it in state, local and national government and politics. At all levels. We have also seen it in Northern Ireland, in Cambodia, in Tibet, in Vietnam, at Abu Grabh, and yes we saw it in Nazi Germany because someone convinced someone else the insulted, demeaned, derided "deserved" it.  Entitled derision.
Entitled derision sits on  continuum. I’ve  listened to the weekly radio addresses that the "opposing parties" in my state’s government back when they were broadcast on Saturday mornings before the sun rises. The  entitled derision from the Governor or the "legislator of the Day", words  their “messaging" staff write for them, is abundant. Who they direct it toward varies. One morning the State Senator giving the address said  "studies have shown that domestic violence victims are more comfortable disclosing to a doctor than a counselor " or other domestic violence worker.  I have written and published about 
domestic violence so  I know  empirical studies show race and social class strongly influence who is or is not believed and thus identified when a patient tells a health care professional about abuse. So there were no studies. Rather, that week, a State Senator used her ‘entitled derision’ to demean domestic violence workers.
The entitled derision we see locally is of course widespread among national political candidates. This is not the roller coaster of politics. It is a continuum that leads to a place of no ethics in government service whatsoever. It is a train ride that at its far end leads to Cambodia, Northern Ireland and the concentration camps of Germany in World War II.  It is entitled derision.
The Third Reich was very very good at engaging and working their local political arms. They didn't control what happened locally by instilling fear of a distant abstract "power". They chose carefully at the local level, "messaged  carefully", to their local leaders. They chose individuals to empower who thirsted for power by association with some higher up. They turned to those local people who were hoping for some personal gain, a job, a moment with a big wig, an invitation to a special event. They relied on them to carry out the entitled derision for them, to degrade, to stigmatize others or to give an air of "acceptability" to what they were doing: locally-sourced derision using imported "messages" from a distant government.
During World War II, in Amsterdam, the Nazis created a Jewish Council selecting a "staff" of 60 Jews and giving them job titles. Etty Hillesum, the Dutch writer whose book "An Interrupted Life" documents her life  before her death at Auchwitz-Berkenau was given a job in the Cultural Affairs Department of the Jewish Council. The Council was the air of "legitimacy" the Nazis gave to the deportation of Jews and the absence of ethical consideration of what was being done. The strategy was to place the local mouse  in a pot of water, the temperature  raised one degree at a time  until it boiled.
If you claim not to recognize entitled derision in contemporary politics you are not telling the truth. Passively accepting entitled derision  in politics threatens  that some day we’ll stop asking why when atrocities are committed- because entitled derision - insult by insult- relies on the belief that the person or group derided deserves it. Of course, no one ever does.  “Working across the aisle” isn’t an "ethic". It’s a carpentry essential. Entitled derision pulls out each  nail - insult by insult- and will - over time-  take the fragile building of the Democratic Process and human rights down, once and for all.

A Citizen's Guide to Silence

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 10:07

Legislative ethics exist to put the brakes on political gamesmanship- whether it’s trading votes to pass a bill, get a fat salaried new Federal job, or for financial gain, all placed ahead of making good governance. But they didn’t work in this case. Congress is at its lowest public approval rating ever. Congressional candidates flaunt “working across the aisle” as a goal. But really they mean “political gamesmanship.” This is not a mystery buried right next to the Gnostic Gospels beside the Tigris River. Just read the daily newspaper.

What is the price of political gamesmanship by legislators and Congressional Representatives and Senators? Five years ago, I - one person- tried to engage legislators in finding proof that a rural asphalt plant would harm the migratory bird population- and the environment because of the noise and pollutants it creates. Let us- now 5 years later - go the migratory bird site. It does not take many years before migrating birds go elsewhere or die because they can‘t find another place. Birds must hear each other to breed and survive. This is why the music of birdsong evolved. It kept them alive. Without them, and citizens who can voice their concern, there is silence. Here is one citizen's guide to that silence.

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A Citizen’s Guide to Silence
Just five years ago, I woke up to hear industrial- size noise, out in the woods where a factory to create such noise had never before been. The noise was louder than I’d ever heard outside a city. But this was a rural pristine place, a  destination for migratory birds. My first thought was for the birds. It was far too noisy for them.  My next thought was to call the local legislator and ask for help with this environmental problem.
You would think that legislators know each voter has one vote cast one vote at a time. But I don’t think they do. Maybe this legislator didn’t like people bothering him at home by calling. The local populace had been intimidated away from calling a long time.  
In my state, there are “Legislative Ethics”, the morays of being a legislator, kind of a “What To Do When A Constituent Asks You To Address A Legislative Issue” booklet. ”Do not  intimidate the constituent” is implicit and actually explicit in these ethics. Do not do anything to make the constituent think or believe or feel that it is unacceptable to call, write, ask or seek relief through the legislative process. 
These legislative ethics might as well be ancient Gnostic gospels written on pretty much illegible papyrus left  by the Tigris River. I don’t think many legislators read them. When I tried to present the issue of a factory (an asphalt plant inside a gravel pit) that had multiple exemptions from the Department of Environmental Protection for violations of  air, water, noise, federal marsh protection, I received either no reply or a reply months later. The Mining Coordinator 300 hundred miles away who approved the factory called 6 months later. He had never- never been to the destination migratory bird site he approved for destruction. 
The DEP field visitor told me  he had been there many times and only later told the local newspaper he hadn’t been there at all. 
The area DEP coordinator was “indignant” that I complained at all.  The DEP commissioner did nothing. The environmental advocacy group director did not reply.
When I brought up the asphalt factory in the gravel pit to the Chair of the Committee overseeing Natural Resources, the legislator said “Well, that won’t make me popular with the gravel pit owners.” 
Two years later, after multiple times saying in many venues and  2 different public hearings that the legislator intimidated constituents from voicing their complaints and taking part in the legislative process through his lets-just-say  “telephone” approach,  I once again- out loud- said that constituents were being intimidated. Many of the other legislators’ eyebrows  raised so high stuck to the napes of their necks.  How could she say such a thing? At a legislative hearing?  That a legislator is intimidating constituents so they have no safe way to protest ? 
Now before I raise the ancient Gnostic gospel- I mean the Legislative Ethics- that make intimidation of constituents a concern, please find a good solid chair with a strong back and strong arm rests, this so you won’t fall off it.
The other legislators decided to publicly demand that I give “proof” that the legislator was using techniques when constituents called that intimidated them . Nobody demanded proof from the out-of-state multi-million dollar asphalt plant owner, or from the statewide mining coordinator or from the Department of Environmental coordinator or field rep or commissioner that the environment was being harmed but, they demanded proof from me that this public office holder was intimidating constituents. The other legislators contacted  editorial page writers to publicly demand that I give proof. They knew full well the whole thing started because I raised an environmental issue that I hoped would be addressed in the   Legislature.
So the editorials or shall I say “Intimidate-orials” ran quoting the legislators demanding my “proof”. I did not get out the ancient Legislative Ethics or ask my friends to share their experience of  intimidation.   I said nothing because I told the truth.
Some of these legislators even got the idea that the next best place to ply their governing gifts is- hang onto that chair- Congress.
Legislative ethics exist to put the brakes on political gamesmanship- whether it’s trading votes to pass a bill, get a fat federal job, or for  financial gain placed ahead of making good governance. But they didn’t work in this case.
Congress is at its lowest public approval rating ever. Congressional candidates flaunt “working across the aisle” as a goal. But really they mean “political gamesmanship.” This is not a mystery buried beside the Tigris River. Just read the daily newspaper.
What is the price of political gamesmanship by legislators and Congressional Representatives and Senators?  Let us- now 5 years later go the migratory bird site. It does not take many years before migrating birds go elsewhere or die because they can‘t find another place. Birds must hear each other to breed and survive. This  is why the music of birdsong evolved. It kept them alive. 
There is no longer an early morning cacophony of bird songs in the woods there that used to be so loud - with windows open- alarm clocks weren’t necessary. There are no loons on the lake. The migratory bird population is not very visible or audible .  
Five years later, that’s the way it is. This aside from the changes in the nearby lake’s ground water table that a hydro-geologist could identify, the emission of toxic heavy metals into the air and water, the damage to marsh life .
I tried very hard to find a legislator who would ask for proof that the environment wouldn’t be damaged, that the 4 jobs created and the multi-million dollar out-of-state company that built it were not more important than political gamesmanship.  That - without a second thought- recognized how intimidation of constituents shuts down voice. But instead the public message was do not- do not- criticize how legislators play their gamesmanship or we will take you out and publicly demand proof so all your young just-learning-about-civics relatives see it in newspaper editorials-  along with the rest of the citizenry. The message to citizens ? Take part in the legislative process and we’ll intimidate you too.
Five years later, what has happened ? The long view? Less and less trust that the public’s voice is more important than political gamesmanship by legislators in Congress or at home.  That  'proof' of no environmental impact from an asphalt plant owner or the DEP is of low priority. That citizen intimidation is just political gamesmanship. And no bird songs or sounds That is also called silence. 

A Citizen's Guide to the Shallow and Inconsiderate in American Public Political Discourse

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:21

The public officials and the political candidates who shape public discourse through the impulsive and shallow convey far more about their ethics than any policy platform could. When their messaging offends and its shallowness is revealed, recognizing it is a first step in returning some level of trust in public officials and political process. Come to think of it, the shallow, the quick, the inconsiderate may have a lot to do with the depletion of trust in our government structures that we currently live with. Thus, this citizen's guide.

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A Citizen’s Guide to the Shallow and Inconsiderate in Public Political Discourse
-Susan Cook-
We all know the shallow and inconsiderate in American public political discourse when we hear it . It’s not a sound bite. It is a choice of words, a comment or retort made by a public official or candidate for office, either spontaneously or  because someone is trying to satisfy the media’s demand for reply. There are many column inches to fill with the quick, shallow and inconsiderate utterances by public officials or candidates for two reasons: an abundance and a deprivation in American political discourse. There is an abundance of entitlement to fill  the public’s appetite with whatever thoughtless impulsiveness pops into mind. There is a deprivation of careful, considered , um, thinking about the issue at hand in favor of impulsive thoughtlessness that pops into their minds. Either of these can pinch hit for the other and deliver the quick, shallow and inconsiderate.  
After the recent devastating gun related tragedies in this country, sensitivity in using words about gun use is a priority. After the Aurora, Colorado shootings, the Newtown, Connecticut massacre,  the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of an unarmed African-American and indeed any of the episodes of gun related devastation, public political figures using the quick and shallow about guns to grasp for the cute sound bite is entitled and uniquely lacking in consideration.
Use of guns, not to provide food for the family table or protection is far far different from random “shoot first, aim later” gun violence. There is no redeeming value in it. 
 In my state, the current Governor’s “gaffes” are, in fact, offensive abuses of the power of the office as an ethical center of political discourse. We see the same disregard for public office as an ethical center in the messaging of candidates for public office. One political party accused  the other political party’s candidate of causing the loss of jobs. The accusation was  met with  a message completely insensitive to random gun violence. The message the candidate came up with? “[The other party] has reached a whole new level of hypocrisy proving that they’re running a ‘shoot first- aim later’ campaign.” (Portland Press Herald,  August 22, 2014, p. B4”)   Remember? Shooting first, aiming later is not just word play but real devastation. There are ethical standards in this society in which, even if everyone starts shooting at the same time, conscience insists we find out where the bullets came from.
The public officials and the political candidates who shape public discourse through the impulsive and shallow convey far more about their ethics than any policy platform could. When their messaging offends and its shallowness is revealed, recognizing it is a first step in returning some level of trust in public officials and political process. Come to think of it, the shallow, the quick, the inconsiderate may have a lot to do with the depletion of trust in our government structures that we currently live with.

What the Truth Costs : A Citizen's Guide

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:23

The cost of the truth is not tied to inflation. It’s tied to tolerance, inversely. The more tolerance that exists, the lower the price paid for the truth. In places where there is little tolerance, the price of the truth is very, very high, impossibly high at times. Witness the beheading of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, whose exclusive purpose was to bear witness to the truth where it lives. The truth can be our moral antidote, a medicine, the vitamin that- yes, keeps us alive and human.

The truth remains very, very powerful. It can be exploited, spun, distorted and taken away . No truth is self-evident . These fallen journalists were its witness and prover, its protector, its deeply aggrieved mourner because someone was trying to diminish it and yes, we too are all of things.

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What the Truth Costs: A Citizen’s Guide
-Susan Cook-
The cost of the truth is not tied to inflation. It’s tied to tolerance, inversely. The more tolerance that exists, the lower the price paid for the truth. In places where there is little tolerance, the price of the truth is very, very high, impossibly high at times. Witness the beheading of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, whose exclusive purpose was to bear witness to the truth where it lives. Nazi death camps would not have been tolerated if there were journalists who could bear witness to what happened in them. There would not be thousands of children whose history of molestation by religious clergy was kept secret if there were journalists bear witness. Yes, there are many many examples of loss, exploitation, tragedy that would have been avoided or made less harmful by journalists telling others about them. Yes, there are shades of gray.  Yes, sometimes it is personal. The truth is an antidote to inhumanity but it is only an antidote if it is valued.  
Creating a culture, a conversation, an organization, a context, even a family in which telling the truth is available to everyone or given a chance to surface  is extremely difficult. We see liberties taken with the truth  words create every single day. When politicians hire spokespersons, they don’t hire the one who is best at telling the truth. They hire the best spinner, the one who will distort until everyone in the room has spinning nystagmus. I heard  a politician (and a lawyer) call a gross spinner  brilliant one time. How is it that this culture has forgotten that it is very very easy to lie? How is it that the liar and the distorter are more highly valued in Congress and political circles than the person who says this is what happened, this is what it‘s like. I heard a politician  talking about raising the minimum wage and complaining that the other politicians wouldn’t accept nine  dollars and something an hour “to compromise”  instead of the ten dollars and something  cents that other legislators want since that’s the truth about what it needs to be to cover costs of living. She wanted the other politicians to  compromise the truth. We are a culture in which politicians tout compromise in Congress as valuable but really what they value is no one noticing when they compromise the truth.
Former President Bill Clinton is still seen favorably by the American public, despite his very public lying. He then very publicly demonstrated  that the truth would be his personal antidote not to everything but  to the offensive. The truth can be our moral medicine, the vitamin that- yes, if it’s ten something per hour that is a living wage- not nine - keeps us alive and human. 
The animalistic killing of these journalists reminds us that the truth remains very, very powerful. It can be exploited, spun, distorted and taken away . No truth is self-evident . These fallen journalists were its witness and prover, its protector, its deeply aggrieved mourner because someone was trying to  diminish it and yes,  we too are all of things. 

What the Truth Costs: An Advanced Citizen's Guide

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 11:09

When we see the tools of discrediting the truth happily taken on, now or in history- we might say this. The cost of the truth is, it turns out, the truth.

I attended a conference recently about “Exploring Women’s Testimony: Genocide, War, revolution, The Holocaust and Human Rights”. After hearing how those things might be connected, it occurred to me hat maybe an advanced Citizens Guide to what the truth costs would be helpful. The truth comes at a high cost but the cost exacted varies from culture to culture, person to person, time, and context. The cost can be measured by its consequence. It can be measured by the intricacy, the arduous effort put into discrediting the speaker. This is what the conference was about.

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What the Truth Costs: An Advanced Citizen's Guide

I attended a conference recently about “Exploring Women’s Testimony: Genocide, War, revolution, The Holocaust and Human Rights”. After hearing how those things might be connected, it occurred to me hat maybe an advanced Citizens Guide to what the truth costs would be helpful.  The truth comes at a high cost but the cost exacted varies from culture to culture, person to person, time, and context.  The cost can be measured by its consequence. It can be measured by the intricacy, the arduous effort put into discrediting the speaker. This is what the conerence was about.
A notable cost of telling the truth with broad humanitarian consequence came from  Sigmund Freud. In the late 19th century when he was developing his psychoanalytic techniques, he saw many women who were diagnosed as “hysterics” (what would know be diagnosed as an anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder). Almost all, disclosed that they had been sexually abused by a close relative. “Blame was laid on perverse acts by the father” Freud wrote to his confidante. He wrote a paper called “The Aetiology of Hysteria” in 1896 which he also presented at his “local” Society of Psychiatry and Neurology”. His colleagues were unimpressed by what Freud called the Seduction Theory because it implied that sexual abuse of female children was widespread in Victorian culture. Freud wrote “Perversion would have to immeasurably more frequent than hysteria.” A big-wig colleague Kraft-Ebbing called it a “scientific fairy tale”. Some months later, Freud  wrote that he had caved to the opinion of his male contemporaries  and abandoned his theory based  on his previous view that women were telling him the truth. Instead, he wrote  that they couldn’t tell the difference between truth and emotionally charged fiction because what the sexually abused women were telling him was a product of his new concept “the unconscious”.
Thus, the credibility of the patient in psychotherapy was handed over to the therapist whose job became distinguishing fact from fiction (or fantasy) rather than accompanying the patient in disclosure.
It took many years for psychotherapy to regain in its footing as a process in which credibility and authenticity of of the patient was acknowledged. Michael White the Austrailian theorist developed Narrative Therapy in which re-authoring by the patient of the personal narrative and thus the restoration of the truth of the person’s life is key. But, “passion” or “unconscious feeling”, the vocabulary of the fairy-tale, stirred up in the unconscious had entered the language, the culture. Emotion as coming from a part of the person separate from the part of the person who tells the truth had  been established. The idea that passion was something not compatible with the continuum of truth had begun if not validated by Freud’s work. 
The cost to the women whose truth Freud abandoned is not known. How many died or spent their lives in institutions is lost to history. Sigmund Freud himself refused to absorb the cost of their truth. He made a theory more palatable to his colleagues in which  women were not believed and the prevalence of sexual abuse in his culture ignored.
The cost of telling the truth is unpredictable. It is also dependent on  the time. At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, an all white Credentials Committee held a hearing to decide whether to seat an alternate Mississippi delegation instead of the white delegation the state Democratic Party had elected. The Mississippi Independence party had elected an African-American delegation that reflected the concerns and momentum of the civil rights movement. Fanny Lou Hamer the Mississippi Civil Rights leader testified and told the truth about police brutality toward civil rights protesters and the denigration of African-Americans through racial segregation. She described  her beating at the hands of law enforcement. Before this white prim, proper committee, her testimony was eloquent, compelling, graphic and true. But for those who did not like what she said, the seeds of the stereotype of emotion overtaking truth-telling, a woman with no filter, brassy, attention-seeking, and of course, harkening back to Freud,  possibly lying and thus lacking credibility.
Even President Lyndon Johnson was nervous about the truth of Fanny Lou Hamer and promptly called a press conference about a very minor legislative issue, to distract the television network  who then interrupted their broadcast of the Convention and her testimony to broadcast the Presidents remarks. The Credentials Committee voted not to seat the Mississippi Independence Committee and yes, some blamed Fanny Lou Hamer not because she told the truth. She told it too well, with passion.  But she was out-of-turn.  She had too much brass. She was an African-American woman. Looking for attention. The truth’s cost was what Fanny Lou Hamer endured . 
Passion remains a subtle underground code word in political circles for dismissing someone’s credibility - and to put the brakes on further inquiry of whether or not its true. (Yes, please hearken back to  Professor Freud  to remind us that what  passion really means is the words spoken  may be the prelude to fantasy or fiction).
In my state, recently in our revered tourist-enticing national publication Downeast  in an issue  with a cover photo of Martha Stewart (aka convicted felon), they re-published an editorial from a small local newspaper. The editorial appeared over a Labor  Day weekend and was a collaborative effort from the local Democrats, and one miffed independent at the urging of the party chair’s paid staff. There was no claim of authorship . It was after all Labor Day weekend and the usual filters of  “civility” weren’t in place. 
The editorial denounced the testimony of a Democratic party officer at a Congressional re-districting hearing because she criticized the committee as part of a larger effort to discredit constituents by moving entire voting districts, eliminating same-day voter registration and  exemplified by a higher up operative from the “other” party who intimidated constituents’  by recording their phone calls. The editorial denounced the testimony as an “antic”, demanding her resignation unless she showed proof. The editorial accused her of flouting  conspiracy theories, “unfounded imputations”  “her loose cannon” damaging her party “ by “impugning others”, dragging her party into “a sandbox spat”, “”sullying the discussion with “inappropriate mudslinging.”  All in  these big Ivy League words  (Anybody know what impugn means?) The Editorial demanded her resignation unless she provided “proof”.  The male “higher up” was never asked for proof. 
It takes  a lot more than proof to undo what the truth costs.  History has shown that the truth’s cost- born for generations- beginning with the sexually abused female patients of Freud and continuing  with the welts and broken bones and scars of Fanny Lou Hamer- has never been paid off simply by providing proof.
In the Downeast reprint case, the woman did not resign her volunteer position or show more proof. And sure enough one and one half years later when her tenure in the volunteer officer position ended, the leader of the party extended gratitude  prefacing remarks  by saying “I know you bring a lot of passion to this work…”
Clearly, these  3 incidents are in totally different times and contexts. The Editorial and the Downeast reprint intended a bigger consequence then the situation in any way, shape or form warranted. But when we see the tools of discrediting the truth happily taken on,  now or in history- we might say this. The cost of the truth is, it turns out, the truth. If you listen hard enough, you can hear today the consequence of Freud’s  failure to believe his female sexually abused patients, you can feel  Fanny Lou Hamer’s wounds without demanding proof that her scars were a result of beatings from law enforcement.
And if you have any questions about the Editorial Downeast Magazine reprinted, you can leave a message, because the person the editorial was written about was me.

A Citizen's Guide to the Difference Between the Truth and "Gotcha" in "Gotcha politics"

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:45

If Woodward and Bernstein and Ben Bradlee had gone for the “gotcha” instead of the truth, the cost would have been the truth. The integrity that Watergate returned to American politics might never happened. There’s no “gotcha” in that. That’s history and the story of the disappearance of candidates with integrity who fall by the wayside because of a Director of New Media, short-sighted journalist or political party operative who are best versed in the “gotcha” and not in the integrity that the truth bring. Let' us pay a little more attention to the difference between the truth and the “gotcha” in “gotcha” politics.

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A Citizens’ Guide to the Difference Between the Truth and “Gotcha Politics”
Recently, a Maine newspaper published an article  reporting that  a legislative candidate  who wrote on the occupation line “physician” and signed  her name  with an MD after it was  “not licensed as a Physician in the state of Maine”.  Even “Ask.com"   clarifies  that graduating from medical school allows the person the designation “physician” and  an MD after her name even  if she does not  choose to become or remain licensed.  
This individual is not  currently licensed in Maine but graduated from a reputable medical school, completed an internship and a residency. There are thousands of retired MDs in Maine who have retired and are not or have never been licensed here or have had their licenses not renewed because of an illness or disability but would still say their occupation is “Physician”  and use MD after their name. who would  not claim to be “licensed physicians”. After all, taking the Hippocratic Oath  implies, but doesn’t insure, integrity. 
After several exchanges, the journalist  refused to acknowledge that the candidate was not “purporting” to be an MD physician but actually  had earned that designation. Or that writing next to “Occupation”, “physician “ is substantially different than publicly claiming to be employed  as a licensed physician. She refused to publish my public rebuttal . The journalist appeared to be playing  “Gotcha” politics. 
“Gotcha politics “are those where political party caucus directors  or political parties  pay “as much as they have to” to do background checks on or track and videotape candidates, opponents or other  suspected  decriers of their agenda so , you know, if there’s a “gotcha” moment, they’ll be the first to get it.  At times, they’ll even join forces with the “other” party to amp up the “gotcha”.   All toward the end of  meeting political goals, “throwing out” or “throwing in”  or  for paid staffers, keeping their jobs.
“Gotcha politics” grab the nefarious  meaning from a fact before they even know the facts.  There are political writers everywhere who live for the “gotcha“. “A  rambling, slurring..lunatic” the New Media Director on the payroll of a prominent Senator  wrote about a woman testifying at a public hearing, none of which as true. 
In the days of Watergate,  the late  Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post, and the  two young reporters  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the truth about the presidency of Richard Nixon  and resisted the  “gotcha” political moment.  There was no leaping to the chase scene in the reporting with a “gotcha agenda“. The truth unfolded over time that, yes,  the presidency of Richard Nixon was brimming with a completely  inappropriate intermingling of political financing and  government responsibility.
If  Woodward and Bernstein and Ben Bradlee had gone for the “gotcha” instead of the truth, the cost would have been the truth.  The integrity that Watergate returned to American politics  might never happened. There’s no “gotcha” in that. That’s history and the story of the disappearance of candidates with integrity who fall by the wayside because of  a Director of New Media,  short-sighted journalist  or political party operative who are best versed in the “gotcha” and not in the integrity that the truth bring. That’s the difference between the truth and the “gotcha” in “gotcha politics".

A Citizen's Guide to the "Fear of Gotcha" in American Political Life

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:04

In the 1950’s and 1960’s American citizens and the stalwart among them who were brave enough to run for political office had to learn to live with the “red scare”. The “red scare” was a manufactured and sometimes elaborately embellished accusation that a politician or a citizen was a communist. In a word that meant “horrible” and willing to sacrifice every liberty and freedom we enjoyed. These days, “red scare-ing” has been replaced in political life by “gotcha” and “fear of gotcha” ”Gotcha” you may remember is the “fruit” of the intensive effort in politics to identify -hey, in the information age, “information” about a candidate or officeholder or political operative that can be cast as dirty, nefarious, some tiny window into the heart of darkness that beats inside an individual previously seen as pure and good who also happens to be in or running for office or working for someone who is. Usually, the “gotcha” obtained has nothing to do with or is irrelevant to the tasks or dignity and respect involved in holding political office.

Red-scare-ing changed the political landscape and turned political life into far more of a looking over one’s shoulder activity than was necessary or productive or useful on the taxpayer’s dollar. These days “gotcha” or rather “fear of gotcha” threatens to do the same thing- if it has not already.
What remains most important is how the officeholders do the job, their respect for this democracy and their constituents and their ability to resist the temptations of power- i.e. the abuse of it.

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A Citizen’s Guide to  “Fear of Gotcha” in American Political Life
-Susan Cook-
In the 1950’s and 1960’s  American citizens and the stalwart among them who were brave enough to run for political office had to learn with to live with the “red scare”. The “red scare” was a manufactured and sometimes elaborately embellished accusation that a politician or a citizen was a communist. In a word  that meant “horrible” and willing to sacrifice every liberty and freedom we enjoyed. The close ally of red-scare-ing was that the person was a spy for the communists.  The culmination, perhaps, of this red scare-ing  were the televised “McCarthy hearings in which the viewing public was brought in  on the fear-mongering to watch American citizens be questioned during Senate hearings as to their “red-ness” by Senator Joseph McCarthy. 
These days, “red scare-ing” has been replaced in political life by “gotcha” and  “fear of gotcha” ”Gotcha” you may remember  is the “fruit” of the intensive effort in politics to identify -hey, in the information age, “information” about a candidate or officeholder or political operative that can be cast as dirty, nefarious, some tiny window into the heart of darkness that beats inside an individual previously seen as  pure and good who also happens to be in or running for office or working for someone who is. Usually, the “gotcha”  obtained has nothing to do  with or is irrelevant to the tasks or dignity and respect involved in holding political office.
Red-scare-ing changed the political landscape and turned political life into far more of a looking over one’s shoulder activity than was necessary or productive or useful  on the  taxpayer’s  dollar. These days  “gotcha” or rather “fear of gotcha” threatens to do the same thing- if it has not already. Politicians, elected or running are not terrorists. But  the prevalence of “fear of gotcha” would lead one to think they are- hearkening back to another day they are communists.
What remains most important is how the officeholders do the job, their respect for this democracy and their constituents and their ability to resist the temptations of power- i.e. the abuse of it.
But “fear of gotcha”  and preemptive gotcha has probably distracted  and diverted more or as much money and attention from the real business of holding office than  well- the “red scare-ing” did in the 50’s. 
The disturbing reality is no one’s complaining about the pursuer of the “gotcha“. No one’s complaining that the inalienable truths of office holding are put on the back burner because staffers are busy trying to find  “gotcha”- information spun in a nefarious way. Fear of gotcha is the accepted mindless mindset.  As a matter of fact, there is even an air of entitlement to the production of “fear of gotcha” After all, the “gotcha” information producer is…producing.. Um.. What…um.  Yeah, what does “fear of gotcha” produce? Well , it undermines community- Who can you trust-  it infuses politics with suspicion and yes maliciousness, entitlement to hate or strongly dislike, just because somebody got involved with the political process and  became the target of someone else’s “gotcha”. In other words, it does nothing but create more fear of gotcha. 
Putting an end to fear of gotcha means stepping up and doing something unusual in American politics which might just stop the corrupting influence of fear of gotcha. And what would that be? First of all, don’t pay staff  to do it or do it yourself. Second,  re-direct re-direct  back to the truth about the character and skills politicians need to be good officeholders  who don’t abuse power . If politicians sign onto that and do it, fear of gotcha might become like red-scare-ing : a historical artifact, quaint, legal, but completely obsolete . 

Referendums on Arrogance- A Citizen's Guide

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:14

In politics, arrogance can be hired, purchased or -in volunteer organizations- a gratuity that comes with volunteer labor.- or elected. In Maine , the incumbent Governor who was re-elected on Tuesday certainly had very public moments of arrogance. But voters decided - on Tuesday-alongside their bond referendums- who had less arrogance. They decided he had less- 48 to 44%.

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In my state, there will be vast humming and hah-ing and ahem-ing about the  failure of millions of dollars spent by Democrats to elect a Governor, a 2nd CD House of Representatives member, to keep the State Senate majority and the previously  solid majority in the Maine House. So  exactly what referendum did the millions spent convince voters to pass? It was a referendum on arrogance.
Not the arrogance of  big ostentatious displays of wealth or aloof elitism. We don’t really have that here in Maine. Let us not forget the down-to-earth unpretentious  humanitarian care of the late physician and philanthropist Richard Rockefeller and  of course, you-know-who’s husband. 
No, this referendum was about the arrogance  communicated in 140 characters, sound bites, face book entries and video-tape, when available. 
Maine legislature members seem to have forgotten that while they were busy trying to read, grasp and vote on bills, their activities were televised every evening on public broadcasting. So, when a representative sheepishly presented a bill to give the attorney general (instead of the Executive branch) the power to set the salaries of Assistant Attorney Generals, we all could watch it  and other bills in the evening.  
They seem to forget that their campaign for office was ongoing and summarized on twitter feeds  by the State House Communications staff in 140 characters. On those State House  twitter feeds, negativity, the contemptuous dismissive, lack of consideration for the other side’s view are common.  That’s the campaigning that was being done for legislators while they were busy doing other things. “Bad CEO” one tweet’s hash tag.
Which arrogance? The kind in the decision by the Democrats to hire an expensive videographer to follow the Governor around so they would have “proof” if he made a  gaffe.  No political party “owns“ civil liberties. The Governor stood up for his right to be free from intrusive surveillance.  He refused to meet with Legislative leaders until they stopped. Then more arrogance in the Senate President’s offer to “break bread” with the Governor and his wife to sort things out- as if the insult from the videotaping was just a matter of filling tummies. Even the solidly anti-Lepage-ists found the video-taped surveillance over-reaching.  It didn’t matter whose Democratic frontal lobe the idea came from. Every single Democratic legislator carried a chip of that arrogance on the shoulder  by their silent acceptance. 
Then there was the violation of the ancient Stonehenge-era ritual of never, ever taking sides in a Democratic party primary because the rules that the party grass roots spend hours and hours making regulate fairness. The rule was ignored in the 2nd Congressional primary race and probably was paid for in the loss of Democratic base voters. 
Words from Washington were also tinged with arrogance- in their disregard for substance, sensitivity and respect.
The day after the Aurora Colorado tragedy one Congressional chief-of-staff posted: “I just got a pedicure!”  Many, many Americans sent the day, night, weeks ahead  praying. After the Newtowne school tragedy, one Congressman publicly pronounced that he  didn’t think it was time to talk about gun control.
Entitlement to arrogance can be hired, purchased or -in volunteer organizations- a gratuity that comes with volunteer labor.  Did the incumbent Governor who was re-elected have arrogant moments? He certainly did.  But voters decided - on Tuesday-alongside their bond referendums- who had less arrogance. They decided he had less- 48 to 44%. 

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: How Can You Tell When Political and Moral Ground Are Too Different From Each Other?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:04

With the election season over, the next phase of elected politics has settled on our plates like a bowl of jello. How can you tell when the age-old moral question “What is right or wrong- civil liberties-style-?” is still high on the legislative agenda? When it’s camouflaged under a political party claim “You are us and we are you and…“ thus leaving you to complete in your own mind the sentence the party wants you to fill in without you first asking “How so?“

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The Sixty-Second Moral Inquiry:  How can you tell when political and moral ground are too dofferent from each other? 
 
 Today’s Sixty-Second moral inquiry asks ”How can you tell when political ground is so different from moral ground that they can no l onger be in the same legislative caucus room?”  The next phase of elected politics has settled on our plates like a bowl of jello. How can you tell when the age-old moral question “What is right or wrong- civil  liberties-style-?” is still high on the legislative agenda? When it’s camouflaged under a political party claim  “You are us and we are you  and…“ thus leaving you to complete in your own mind the sentence the party wants you to fill in without you first asking “How so?“ When all the cry  “We need to be on the same team” is just a way to stop anyone from asking questions that might lead them to discover they don‘t want to be because the team does not ask “Is this right or morally wrong?“

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: What's Wrong With Targeting Individuals?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:40

In many parts of the world, torture, harassment and persecution are used to target individuals who criticize , believe, have secrets or religions (like Tibetan Buddhism by the Chinese ) disliked by those in power. It happens everywhere even in this country. Thus the Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks: What’s wrong with targeting individuals because of what the individual criticizes or believes?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: What’s Wrong with Targeting Individuals?
Torture,  harassment and persecution are used to target individuals who  criticize , believe, have secrets  or religions (like Tibetan Buddhism by the Chinese )  disliked by those in power.  Thus the  Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks:  What’s wrong with targeting individuals  because of what the individual  criticizes or believes? Not convicted criminals but individuals ?  What is dehumanizing about demanding people do and think what you tell them to, or suffer physically ,  psychologically or be held up for public humiliation in the media? Doesn’t the consequence of targeting  start with the entitlement to target the individual in the first place ? Just because one party or executive  or government has power today,  if the entitlement and permission to target an individual is there doesn’t that  mean that tomorrow  if the power shifts that individual  could be you  unless the utmost priority is treating the individual with dignity and respect  also known as human rights? 

A Citizen's Guide to the Difference Between Telling the Truth and an Attack

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:51

I heard Jill Abramson , the former executive editor of the New York Times say recently that since the George W. Bush administration, there have been no less than eight lawsuits against members of the press for disclosing truth from information held in government documents.

Because the truth can change people’s beliefs, we are now in a time when telling it has been raised to the “orange alert” stage- the now unused system for alerting the public to danger. Fourth grade girls knew the truth is threatening in this way all along anyway. But as citizens, we have to ask what we lose when telling the truth is called an attack, something to prevent at all costs and thus beyond the reach of our beliefs because the powers that be don’t want us to hear it. The inner fourth grade girl in all of us is silenced and we are left with whatever the real consequences of the abuse of power are- which getting back to the outcomes history has displayed are often far worse, more damaging because the observers and the people in power who could have stopped those dangers did not have truth on their side or chose to ignore it or pretend that truth telling was an attack rather than act of protection.

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A Citizens Guide to the Difference between Telling the Truth and an “Attack”
-Susan Cook-
Much of the harm that has fallen to the  human race might have been prevented if people had told the truth. Cigarette smoking and lung cancer , carbon emissions and global warming, agent orange and cancer among Vietnam Veterans, and the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide,  the Armenian genocide and on and on. This does not include truth  telling on the Bernie Madoff scale of course credit swap default derivatives and the economic collapse of 2008.
I suppose we could turn to the Chinese philosophies of Sun Tze for the origins of the belief that deception is central to the art of war which presumes that telling the truth is contrary to successful aggression,  if in fact there is a war in progress. But these days, telling the truth can be cited in the media as an attack. To use the  word “attack” to describe telling the truth is a twenty first century twist on Sun Tze’s fondness for deception.  What do we have on our side if we don’t have the truth? 
But telling the truth as “attack”?  I heard Jill Abramson , the former executive editor of the New York Times  say recently that since the George W. Bush administration, there have been no less than eight lawsuits against members of the press for disclosing truth from information held in government documents.
I suppose on the one hand we could say that national security has now caught up with the social intelligence that fourth and fifth grade girls have mastered.  Paying attention to what is really going on,  telling the truth is very threatening to people in positions of power because part of what power subjugates is what you are willing to believe. How else would women have put up with being paid 69 cents for every dollar than men make for so long unless someone  had led them to believe that discrepancy was justified? Who would ever buy into the idea that one political party or leader or pubic policy is any better than another if belief systems were not what political power holds sway over? Who would ever believe that insurance company CEOs should be paid millions dollars annually unless people in positions of power had led  others to believe it was justified? Belief  levels the power playing field. Believing in the democratic process what keeps people voting and what makes people stop. Without it, unless there are weapons  and physical aggression involved,  power loses its scaffold- the story, the structure that justifies it.
Because the truth can change people’s beliefs, we are now in a time when telling it has been raised to the “orange alert” stage- the now unused system for alerting the public to danger. Fourth grade girls knew the truth is threatening in this way all along anyway. But as citizens, we have to ask  what we lose when telling the truth is called an attack, something to prevent at all costs and thus beyond the reach of our belief s because the powers that be don’t want us to hear it. The inner fourth grade girl in all of us is silenced and we are left with whatever the real consequences of the abuse of power are- which getting back to the outcomes history has displayed are often far worse, more damaging because the observers and the people in power who could have stopped those dangers did not have truth on their side or chose to ignore it or pretend that truth telling was an attack rather than act of protection.

A Citizen's Guide to the Surgical Inoperability of Self-interest from the Political Body

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:04

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that Arizona’s 2000 law which created an Independent Commission to determine Congressional Re-districting boundaries is constitutional. Arizona ‘s Legislature wanted it the old way: elected legislators deciding who would be in the pool of voters who elect them by defining the boundaries of voting districts.

The attorneys for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission argued that returning redistricting to the legislature would be “the loss of the last great hope for addressing partisan gerrymandering.” The attorneys who wanted re-districting to return to the Legislature wrote that “Plenty of options remain for addressing partisan gerrymandering with the ultimate backstop being the ability to vote the gerrymanderers out.” The last great hope in this case is that respect for constituents- citizens- not the injured Arizona Legislature- is what the Supreme Court would protect and they did.

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A Citizen’s Guide to the Surgical Inoperability of Self-interest from the Political Body 
 
The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that Arizona’s 2000 law which created an Independent Commission to determine Congressional Re-districting boundaries  is constitutional. It took a task in running elections away from the Arizona State Legislature. Arizona ‘s  Legislature wanted it  the old way: elected legislators deciding who  would be in the pool of voters who elect them by defining the boundaries of districts.  
The attorneys for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission argued , among all their other legal arguments,  that returning redistricting to the legislature  would be “the loss of the last great hope for addressing partisan gerrymandering.”  The attorneys who wanted re-districting  to return to the Legislature wrote that “Plenty of options remain for addressing partisan gerrymandering with the ultimate backstop being the ability to vote the gerrymanderers out.” 
The  big question here is: “Is Partisan self-interest surgically inoperable from the partisan political body ?” In Maine, in 2011,  the decision-making of the Re-districting Commission  answered that question with a resounding Yes. 
There are only 2 congressional districts in Maine which makes it easier and more transparent when a redistricting proposal deliberately shifts a district majority for partisan self-serving.  In 2011, the “Republican” commission members suggested a plan to give the Second Congressional District a Republican majority, which happened to equal the number of votes by which the Republican candidate for that Congressional seat lost in  the previous election. 
I confess hear to inadvertently throwing  bait into the constituent feeding frenzy by testifying before the Committee that their efforts to control were like telling the populace, “We didn’t like who you voted for last time so we’re going to give you someone else to vote for”, particularly since their manipulations would move the sitting Congressional Representative for the First Congressional District out of her own district.  This being an international  tactic used by non-democracies.  I chastised  them for disregarding constituents- in  bills to remove same day voter registration- and by electing a Senate President who recorded constituent phone calls intimidating  anyone who thought they  had a legislator to call about legislative matters.  Because I held a minor party officer,  any defense of constituents was suspect. 
Hell hath no fury or dirty behind the scenes activities than a legislator, political operative or  communications director who fears a job loss. If her party gets voted out of office.  “Scurrilious!” “If she can’t give us proof, she has to resign”, the Republicans sputtered. But sniffing some deal making opportunities the Democrats joined in - forgetting that they simultaneously were sending a message to constituents that they were not the most important issue at stake in re-districting.  “She is of no use  to anyone if she can’t prove it.” I was not about to add more targeted bait by disclosing that a Republican forty year friend  had warned me- to protect me-  about calling a certain legislator about a local source of environmental contamination.  
But alas- there is no constituent more important to a politician than him or herself - caught gerrymandering -or criticized- or a party staffer who might lose a job.  Political plums were handed out- one fat salaried federal job for the Commission Chair who had joined in the cry of scurrilious. Which leads me to the serendipitous CAT scan of how Redistricting Commissions really work that this event  revealed. Aside and apart from how the Supreme Court rules on the Arizona  State Legislature vs. the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case. There is no surgical instrument known to remove the inoperable mass called  self-serving political interest. I waited before I called one of the Democratic legislators who publicly editorialized that I should resign from my volunteer party office if I couldn’t  give proof  for my remarks.  Speed dialing, I said “Do you think I should resign? “ “No“, the legislator said. “You know my proof was corroborated by a respected Republican, don’t you?”. “Yes, I know.”  I didn’t  say “Then why waste the ink, time, public trust  and flagrant libel of me if that you didn’t think I should resign.” Yes, please answer for yourself this question : for the political capital which is cashed in for self-interest at a time of the politician’s choosing. The fury of the gerrymanderer caught gerrymandered is a case study  for the medical annals of what is really going on inside the political body. There are very few constituents in there.
Partisanship as inoperably tied to political self-interest has stayed with me though, after this reality CAT scan of  both kinds of  political bodies because it  showed that  vote grabbing is far more important than regard for constituents.  Thus,  the  last great hope in this case is that respect for constituents- citizens-  not the injured Arizona Legislature- is what the Supreme Court would protect.  And they did.

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: What's Wrong With Politicians Placing Political Gamesmanship Above Honoring the Public Trust?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:19

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about what is right and what is wrong. Today's Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks what is wrong with politicians placing political gamesmanship above honoring the public's trust? When did political gamesmanship become more important to Senators, Congressional representatives and state legislators than respecting the public trust? Is it wrong, as Gallup polls tell us has happened, to destroy the public trust just so the “politicians” will be winner of the day at political gamesmanship?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: What’s wrong with politicians placing political gamesmanship above honoring the public’s trust?
-Susan Cook-

 
Today’s sixty- second moral inquiry asks what is wrong with politicians in Congress and  state legislatures  placing  political gamesmanship above upholding the public trust?  What’s wrong with the Senate President or the Speaker of the House telling legislators or  Senators and Congressional representatives they have to  vote the way the leadership tells them. What’s wrong with politicians deciding to deceive the public and undermine trust by going along with what their Caucus wants instead of remembering that the public voted them into office because the public  wants them to be trustworthy? When did political gamesmanship become more important to legislators than respecting the public trust?  Is it wrong , as Gallup polls tell us has happened, to destroy the public trust just so the “politician” be winner of the day at political  gamesmanship? 

"I Wonder Whose Pocket She's In" (The song and dance genre): A Lyrical Tribute to Corporate Influence on Elected Officials

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:46

Well, in my state we have a remarkable example of corporations having their way with state legislators to pass a bill that- in the long run did nothing but pay the corporation millions in cashed-in tax breaks. And the two legislators (one from each party) who sponsored the bill got nothing but $16,000 in donations to their personal PACS. This has sparked wonder and awe and inspired a lyrical tribute "I Wonder Whose Pocket She's In" which can be sung to the melody of the 1909 hit song "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now", if you like a good song instead of a bracing lyrical poem.

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Well, in my state, we have a remarkable example of corporations having their way with state legislators  to pass a bill that- in the long run- did nothing to solve the problem the bill was supposed to solve. 
Thanks to the investigative reporting of the Maine Sunday Telegram, we know that in 2011 our legislature passed an investment opportunity bill to encourage investors to put their money into low-income communities. All is good.  The problem is, the legislature passed the bill without any requirement that the money the corporation invested (in exchange for tax breaks  equal to 39% of the total investment)  actually be spent on the community  it was supposed to help. And worse- if the corporation didn’t pay any taxes in the state- they could just cash in that 39% of the money they invested for real real dollars.  Thus, a corporate investment which looked like 40 million dollars on paper for a failing Maine paper company ended up with the investors getting 16 million dollars in cashed-in tax breaks, millions to pay off other debts, $8 million for the investment corporation, $500,000 to lawyers and brokers, and a ripe  $16,000 to the two legislative leaders (one from each party)  who sponsored it.  
Why a complex bill was passed without the due diligence that the public trusts legislators to have- is an unknown. We only know the 2 sponsors of the legislation received about 16 thousand dollars for their PACs for sponsoring it and pressuring their colleagues to vote for it.. 
I mean, really only 16 thousand for the two legislators- when millions were being passed from investor to investor?
This sparks wonder which here inspires verse- well, song, if you’re a singer because the verse can also be sung to  the melody from the 1909 song  “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now.” (Check it out on You Tube!)
And so our verse asks  “I Wonder Whose Pocket She’s In”
I Wonder Whose Pocket She’s In
(to the tune of I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now)
I wonder whose pocket he’s in
Now that she’s left office again.
I  suppose that the guys 
whose pockets he  lined 
Still like the paydays 
his decisions inspired.
Electeds aren’t paid all that much
and you know campaigns cost as much
as a lawyers’  down payment
When they’re hired by the complainant
Who’s discovered a problem that the laws
Should have solved.
Campaign contributions go into  remission
When the Federal Election Commission
Puts the numbers online
In a font called  Tiny Fine
And they’re alphanumerically
listed  in rhyme. 
You know  I’m just kidding with that.
You just have to know where they’re at
I mean the descriptor
Of the name of the sister
Of the corporate custodian who works 
weekends sometimes. 
And there on line eight thousand ten
She’s managed to give him again
The monetary limit
For a candidate who’s in it
For the long haul and knows 
his big pay day won’t come…
Til’ he opts to not seek again
The office where he used his pen
To put into place  
the gravy and baste 
the fat critter that some 
Corporation has raised.
Their regulatory dismays 
Resemble a  purgatory in ways
Their  projects go on  hold.
Til the owners grow old
And cannot  recall
The best number to call…
To tweak the one they have  elected 
Who waits at his desk .He’s rejected
a number of bills 
his donors s want killed.
But never when
picturing James, George or Ben.
Which now brings us back to our question
About an elected’s  intention
When citizens call 
and encounter a wall
And the call’s  placed on hold
til  the elected’s  gone home. 
So now he’s back home. Has he been offered
A  job that will top off his coffers.
And soon he can request
the suit lawyers  like best
at Brooks Brothers with  pockets
that won’t cramp his knees or their sockets. 
I wonder whose pocket he’s in
Now that he has  left office again.
I  suppose that the guys 
whose pockets he  lined 
Still like the paydays 
his decisions inspired….

In the Department of Poetic Justice: We'll Give You A Job (The song and dance genre)

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:47

In the Department of Poetic Justice, as we say "Sayonara" to Tom Price, government jobs distributed as they may be, a poetic tribute called "We'll Give You A Job" which might be sung to the tune "Home on the Range".

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In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Poetic Reckoning)
"We'll Give You A Job"
-Susan Cook-
To the Tune of "Home on the Range"
Oh, we'll give you a job
where the fat salaries are
and the pay is the highest you've had,
where seldom is heard, your skills being what they are,
what's required to get hired for this?
Jobs can be arranged,
if you do what I want when I say.
That may entail, never saying my name,
making sure our connection not clear.
Oh, jobs can be arranged,
where rewards will be dear
for your silence. Don't mention my name,
and the rest of your friends, we know what they will do
but remember they didn't tell you.
Jobs can be arranged
because I'm at the top of my game
and you and I  won't get caught with our hand in the pot.
It's your friends who are busy all day.
Yes, jobs can be arranged,
I forget what job you did, before you
rose up on my radar screen.
 Since you did just what I said, my involvement well hid,
You did landscaping,  now I recall.
Oh, we'll give you a job
where the fat salaries are
and the pay is the highest you've had,
where seldom is heard, since your skills are what they are,
is he minimally qualified for this?










"You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours" In the Dept. Of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:48

In the Department of Poetic Justice, we offer a poetic tribute to the complex topic of hiring candidates for government jobs who carry heavy political indebtedness. Might be sung to the tune of "Love and Marriage" which was written for a 1955 production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town".

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In the Department of Poetic Justice
‘You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Your Back’
To the tune of Love and Marriage, 
a song written for a 1955 production of Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town'
-Susan Cook-
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back
Julius Caesar didn’t take the right tack,
Handing out some big jobs might  
Help Brutus fix the numbers and do the  math right.

One for you and one for me, I guess
It’s kindness, a certain specialty, 
political repayment
In the form of six figure paycheck improvement.  

You did my way, I did your way,
Surprise, surprise, I’m ready for my payday,
Call me clever, greedy,
Pick me, amigo, I’m feeling needy.

Just remember, when you cover
my butt, I  certainly will re-consider
yours when you’re caught lying, 
vote trading,  need some good denying .

Exculpation, exoneration
Pardoning  in any situation,
You for me, no matter
Who else gets nailed- My checkbook fatter.

This is not Ukraine, or Moscow, 
Putin territory, where you might go
Hoping for some bribing 
In Maine, it’s done through legal hiring.

Advocacy, conspiracy,
Cover my butt, six figures should do that nicely,
I’ll advocate so publicly, 
for your job, with the DEP or maybe public utilities.  

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back
Julius Caesar didn’t take the right tack,
Handing out some big jobs might  
Help Brutus fix the numbers and do the  math right.

In the Department of Poetic Justice "What Do I Owe You? I Thought I Already Paid"

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:45

Reconciling one man's self-defined Free Trade Agreements (Eeew) is hard to do. A Poetic Tribute to the lyrical dilemma of paying $130000 for something you don't think you should have to pay for because you are fabulous but you are trying to buy someone's silence so you can be elected to a high public office with the support of Evangelical Christians.

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In the Department of Poetic Justice: What Do I Owe You?
(The Great American Wrongbook)
to tune of "Getting to Know You"
from "The King and I"

-Susan Cook-
What do I owe you?
I thought I already paid.
What do I owe you?
I do not like to be made
into a shyster.
Your rates were far above
my financial free trade
agreement. My private codeword
for what I should not have to get
a bill for.  That's not fair trade.
I am not saying
I did not enjoy time with you
I guess I neglected
to ask the same question of you.
for a couple of hours
(was it longer than that?)
for which I paid. Did you realize
that I am a senior- AARP- as well,
discounts  qualify. Couldn't you tell?
Don't try to tell me
sixty-five plus you begin
to charge by the hour
instead of counting item  by item.
"Je ne c'est pas"
how your bottom line fares.
I just know when I did real estate
finishing the deal
no matter how long it takes
one price from start till the end.
So by those standards no
don't take this wrong but it seems
one hundred thirty thousand, well,
No, you didn't tell me-
there is a difference between
older  fellows who last
I guess you could say. Than those on rapid lunch breaks.
Just like our country, you defer payment
for debt. Who carries that kind of cash?

I just don't get it.
President Clinton you know, 
notoriously went out
at lunch time for his quick  runs
in Little Rock. I am guessing he thought
money would cheapen deep love he had,
He made sure no cash would ever changed hands
No paying it forward,
he a liberal man.

I'm not a liberal but
I believe there are times
when paying it forward
helps cover the bottom line.
Eventually, the past 
may bring up incidents
when changing the spelling of your name
would help avoid future repayment claims.
You weren't there. Cash was for your doppelgang

In the Department Of Poetic Justice: "I Want a Leak Just Like the Leak that Richard Nixon Had..."

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:13

Drawing from The Great American Wrongbook, in the Department of Poetic Justice, which could be sung to "I want a Girl Just Like the Girl..."

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 In the Department of Poetic Justice (The Great American Wrongbook)
" I want a leak just like the leak that Richard Nixon had."
(To the tune of "I want a girl just lie the girl who married.." )
I want a leak just like the leak that Richard Nixon had.
A real eye-opener with special news,
Liddy, Watergate-ish and then he blew a  fuse. 
I want a leak just like the leak that Richard Nixon had.



I want to see lab results from a strand of someone's hair,
or clippings when he gets his toenails cut,
fingernais engrained with who knows what.
I want to see lab results from a strand of someone's hair.


I want to see behavioral comparisons each day.
Please check the weekdays close to the weekend.
Thursday, Friday, right near the week's end.
I want to see behavioral comparisons each day.


Where are the officials who monitor him day-by-day?
It's not like these are minor infractions,
Western civilization gone during his binge.
Where are the officials who monitor him day-by-day?
 
Kelly, Sarah Huckabee, even Mr. Tillotsen,
could give him a pat on his shoulder pads,
whoops, coinicidentally, happen to snag,
one strand with the follicle, answering what we have asked.

I want a leak just like the leak that Richard Nixon had.
A real eye-opener with special news,
Liddy, Watergate-ish. He might blow a fuse.
I want a leak just like the leak that Richard Nixon had.

Birthing the Newest Political Hypocrites- The Two 1/2 Minute Conspiracy Theory

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:08

This week the United States Senate voted to overrule the intention of the Founding Fathers and disregard the process that give minority membership voice.They invoked the 'nuclear option' to stop the filibuster of the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But what did the United States Senate really do. Today's Two and One-half Minute Conspiracy Theory offers, well, a conspiracy theory.

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Birthing the Newest Hypocrite: The 2 and ½ Minute Conspiracy Theory
-Susan Cook-
Today’s Two and ½ Minute Conspiracy Theory explains what the United States Senate has really done this week by  changing rules to stop the filibuster of anti-reproductive rights Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. They have given birth to our newest hypocrite. No, we’ re not talking about  denying preventive health care or  access to contraception -also known as reproductive rights- and guaranteed prenatal care to prevent  neonatal intensive care hospitalizations and infant mortality.
No, today’s conspiracy theory is that a brand spanking new hypocrite called the Plan C United States Senate has been born to replace Plan A United States Senate and Plan B United States Senate. Now, not every state has a member in Plan C United States Senate. My state has just one.
Plan C United States Senate  was born after the rules of Plan A United States Senate such as those laid in the past by Founding Fathers, didn’t get someone what he wanted, because someone had set in motion Plan B also known as a filibuster. Didn’t like that, so you give birth to Plan C United States Senate. Now, Plan C United States Senate was not laid by the founding fathers either. No matter. A man wants what he wants when he wants it. So you give birth to Plan C United States Senate.  That means you do not give another thought to who will have to live - ultimately- with the consequences of what you have done, no matter how cruel, how completely self-serving, and how damaging and miserable life will be.
Even if you claim, like the member of the Plan C United States Senate from my state, to really, really, really respect the rules of Plan  A US Senate. So, you always give everyone in the United States Senate a chance to vote on a nominee for a position by shuffling your deck just so to make sure the person receives the approval of the committee you’re on even if you say the person is not qualified for the position.  
The 2 and ½ Minute Conspiracy theory about Plan C United States Senate is that a brand new hypocrite has been born . You know what hypocrites think. Not my problem. Not her problem if the United States Senate is not a viable , breathing governing body- but a shell of itself. A shill, I mean, a hypocrite. A shill.

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry:In the First Place, Why Would A Corporation Let a Veteran Legislator/Franchiser have Huge Debt?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:15

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about right and wrong in sixty seconds about pressing matters of the day. Because the Maine legislature now debates rules to oversee mining including open pit mining which relies on machines not human beings to get the job done, today we ask why a major gas station corporation whose brother corporation seeks to build an open pit mine would allow a veteran legislator and franchisee of one of their gas stations to build up $250000 in debt in the first place?

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The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry- Why Would A Major Corporation Whose Brother Corporation Seeks Open-Pit Mining Rules Let Their Franchising Veteran Legislator Build Up $250000 in Debt
-Susan Cook-
The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks questions about right and wrong in sixty seconds about pressing matters of the day. Because the Maine legislature now debates rules to oversee mining including open pit mining which relies on machines not human beings to get the job done, today we ask why a major gas station corporation whose brother corporation seeks to build an open pit mine would allow a veteran legislator and franchisee of one of their gas stations to build up 1500000 in debt in the first place. Because the debt was later forgiven by the brother corporation to the mining corporation, why wouldn’t  they make the veteran mining-rule committee legislator pay as you go- one gas, donut ,  gator-ade or soda consumption billing cycle at a time. Isn’t it wrong to let a creditor build up bills- knowing later on he’ll be voting on certain mining rules as if waiting to spring the trap.

Like A Bird on the Wire: Human Rights and the Asylum Network

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:40

There is always, someone, somewhere who "like a bird on the wire" from Leonard Cohen's song, is trying “in [his or her] way to be free“.

Since 1989, Nobel Peace Prize winner Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has provided to asylum seekers medical and psychological assessment of injuries from past victimization and its persistent symptoms. Asylum seekers are those in the U.S. with temporary legal documentation who have a well-founded fear of scorn and harm through any number of methods, including torture, if sent home. The culturally, if not government endorsed, perception that they are of no use to anyone gives tacit if not explicit permission to harm, an entitled stance taken on by their adversaries in their country of origin. PHR's Asylum Network of volunteer health care providers then write affidavits to accompany lawyers' presentation of the Asylum Seeker's request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Dept. of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review. It is a long and complex process.

We- yes, we- do not understand that in many countries, political activism is a privilege not a right. I cringe when I see individuals- on both sides of the aisle- here in Maine and now in a Donald Trump administration turn political activism back into a privilege- not a right. The LePage plan and the Donald Trump immigration stance that withholds basic food and shelter from asylum seekers kicks in the shins this protection of political activism for its own sake and treats it like a special privilege that only those who can run fast enough to get away deserve. Our entire country exists by virtue of and to protect that right. It’s how Mr. Lepage and Donald Trump got where they are- through the right of political activism that did not lead to their persecution, arrest, sexual assault, starvation, homelessness or the disappearance or murder of friends or family.

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Like a Bird on A Wire: Human Rights and The Asylum Network.
In Memory of Leonard Cohen
-Susan Cook-

Here, we assume that  individuals won't be publicly scorned or physically or mentally harmed for criticizing  government leaders or by  belonging to a religion, race, gender, political party or social group fallen from favor. Asylum from sanctioned harm is what our ancestors emigrated toward.  In their countries of origin, they were often candidates for persecution that leadership felt entitled to bestow.
Since 1989, Nobel Peace Prize winner Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has provided to asylum seekers  medical and psychological assessment of injuries from past victimization and its persistent symptoms. Asylum seekers are those in the U.S. with temporary legal documentation who have a well-founded fear of scorn and harm through any number of methods, including torture, if sent home.  The culturally, if not government endorsed, perception that they are of no use to anyone gives tacit if not explicit permission to harm,  an entitled stance taken on by their adversaries  in their country of origin.  PHR's Asylum Network of volunteer health care providers then write affidavits to accompany lawyers' presentation of the Asylum Seeker's  request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  or the Dept. of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review.  It is  long and complex process.
Our own country’s status as an asylum, is itself always under threat. In many countries, the entitled view that some people are of no use to anyone legitimizes  permission to persecute. There are many examples to draw from, one being the Rwandan genocide in which one million people were murdered within 100 days.
 
Persecution comes in many forms, as the following excerpt from an asylum seeker's  de-identified PHR affidavit  validates. S states that his work as a journalist in Iran has led to his alleged arrests and detention...In 2000, S was ordered by the Iranian Ministry of Information to engage in no further publishing of any newspapers or magazines...In 2001, he published an article about a reformist Mullah who resigned from the government in protest, despite warning from the National Security Council that he could not print this article. In summer of  2002, the Iranian government shut down his newspaper. S also gave a BBC Persia interview about the shutdown of the paper...[He was subsequently detained 4 times where he was repeatedly tortured.]  In February 2012, Iranian colleagues (an Iranian human rights activist living in the US) asked S to attend and report on an opposition  rally planned by...a reformist group. S did publish an anonymous account...S was arrested again… He was severely beaten and told to confess to the authorship of his articles...He refused to confess, and in fact, denied that he had written the articles...After the beatings, [the interrogator] threw him in the hallway...and called his family...who took him to the hospital...[The interrogator] and another official came to his  bedside  to warn S that if he kept writing, he would be referred to a higher-ranking prosecutor who would tie him up and cause him further pain and suffering." (pp. 85-87. "Aiding Survivors of Torture and other Human Rights Abuses: Physical and Psychological Documentation of Individuals Seeking  Humanitarian Protection in the United States",  Physicians for Human  Rights' Asylum Program,  Boston, MA., March 2012.)
Many PHR affadavits document the persecution of Asylum Seekers.  Entitled harm to individuals, political activists and others, who write, speak, or  present discredited views  or  in some cases,  just belong to a group out of favor, can be a pen stroke or  one legislative vote away, anywhere.  
 
We- yes, we- do not understand that in many countries, political activism is a privilege not a right. I cringe when I see individuals- on both sides of the aisle- here in Maine and elsewhere turn political activism back into a privilege- not a right. The LePage plan and the Donald Trump immigration stance  that withholds basic food and shelter from asylum seekers kicks in the shins this protection of political activism for its own sake and  treats it like a special  privilege that only those who can run fast enough to get away deserve. Our entire country exists by virtue of and to protect that right. It’s how Mr. Lepage and Donald Trump got where they are- through the right of  political activism that did not lead to their persecution, arrest, sexual assault, starvation, homelessness or the  disappearance or murder of friends or family. 
So, now, well-fed, sheltered and free from persecution, Mr. Lepage and Donald Trump say “Well, only the privileged who can find their own food and shelter are welcome here where political activism is protected by asylum from the fists  of government oppression. The rest can just  slowly starve and be driven back to persecution."
Remember, please (since they seem to have forgotten that these are human stories, not political antics)  what  "S" and Physicians for Human Rights hold in mind. There is always, someone, somewhere who "like a bird on the wire" from Leonard Cohen's song,  is trying “in [his or her] way  to be free“.

A Citizen’s Guide to Small-minded Denigration: A Sixty Second Moral Inquiry, Two and ½ Minute Conspiracy Theory presented in a Sonnet for The Department of Poetic Justice

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:34

In honor of the upcoming Presidential race, The River Is Wide presents a melding of our favorite features. A Citizen's Guide, A Sixty Second Moral Inquiry and Two and 1/2 Minute Conspiracy Theory presented in a Sonnet to place In the Department of Poetic Justice. Random The River Is Wide Series is not.
The topic:
A Citizen’s Guide to Small-minded Denigration (or a Conspiracy to Throw the Ethical Female Presidential Candidate Under the Bus for what She has Never Done).

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A Citizen’s Guide to Small-minded Denigration  (or a Conspiracy to Throw the Ethical Female Presidential Candidate Under the Bus for what She has Never Done):
A Sixty Second Moral Inquiry, Two and ½ Minute Conspiracy Theory presented in a Sonnet for The Department of Poetic Justice
Diligent Presidents also can be
women. Intelligent, insightful,
reliable, prestigious, humanly
accomplished, with sound judgment? Delightful!
What will have nothing to do with the job
she will do is the employee who lacked
judgment and chose a sick ex-husband, robbed 
sense.  The staffer, small-minded, at the back
of the  bus, the Opponent now sinks to
say, should be used to run out the admired
Woman, who should be President, linked to
small mindeds just because of who she hired.
Hostile cruel minds Either sex can be numb.
Formidable President?  She’s the one.

Disguising Hatred- The ACLU Lawsuit Against Torture

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 04:10

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against two psychologists who developed a program to pair torture with interrogation of “suspected” terrorists held in the CIA’s Afghanistan prison, code named COBALT. The psychologist defendants created practices that intricately examined every aspect of human suffering , then made a program to pair torture with interrogation.The practice of Psychology is premised on compassion, not hatred. The discovery of human tools to sustain compassion in the face of atrocity, is one of its accomplishments. The ethics of the field are, as always, a work in progress because the actions human beings come up with to deny compassion and manifest hatred change all the time .The violations cited by the ACLU suggest that the professional guilds of psychology have not been vigilant or vociferous enough in rejecting exploitation of psychology’s mantle to mask political intentions. Hatred manifests differently all the time. And there is no question that finding sustenance for compassion in time of great violation is very difficult to do. But hatred disguised as compassion is still hatred. I am a psychologist who provides intervention. If psychology and its professional guilds cannot provide sustenance for compassion- in the face of great human atrocities- then we should all just go home and get different jobs. Because understanding why people disguise hatred is an ethical use of psychology. Making up and selling techniques up to do it is not anything other than more hatred.

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Disguising Hatred- The ACLU Lawsuit Against Torture

-Susan Cook-

 

The practice of Psychology is premised on compassion, not hatred. The discovery of human tools to sustain compassion in the face of atrocity, is one of its accomplishments. The ethics of the field are, as always, a work in progress because the actions human beings come up with to deny compassion and manifest hatred change all the time . Internet harassment, for example, is not a kind of hatred we witnessed 20 years ago. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against two psychologists who developed a program to pair torture with interrogation of “suspected” terrorists held in the CIA’s Afghanistan prison, code named COBALT, during the post-911 terrorist vendetta.

The psychologist defendants created practices that intricately examined every aspect of human suffering , then made a program to pair torture with interrogation, waterboarding, for example, an experience in which the victim is lead to believe he will drown. The CIA spent 81 million dollars to fund these atrocities to extort “truth” from the 3 plaintiffs in the ACLU case, detained at COBALT. All 3, Suleiman Abdullah Salam, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and Gul Rahman (who died because of the hypothermia caused by the torture), were later proven to have no affiliation with Al -Qa’ida.

Psychology has always

The atrocities described are like those of any setting where war , prejudice and indifference are seen as justification for suppression of compassion. The activities explicitly violate the American Psychological Association Ethics Code which mandates respect for others, non-discrimination, avoidance of harm, or misuse of influence , avoidance of exploitive relationships, research competently conducted with due concern for the dignity and welfare of participants and then there is the larger mandate to first do no harm. Psychological inquiry and intervention is completely undermined by any subversion of the intent to understand human beings for the betterment of all. Martin Seligman the psychologist who developed the theory of learned helplessness did so to grasp how people become dis-empowered. The CIA psychologists

exploited the term to claim that science justified their cruel tactics to make prisoners completely powerless.

The violations cited by the ACLU suggest that the professional guilds of psychology have not been vigilant or vociferous enough in rejecting exploitation of psychology’s mantle to mask political intentions. Hatred manifests differently all the time. And there is no question that finding sustenance for compassion in time of great violation is very difficult to do. But hatred disguised as compassion is still hatred. I am a psychologist who provides intervention. If psychology and its professional guilds cannot provide sustenance for compassion- in the face of great human atrocities- then we should all just go home and get different jobs. Because understanding why people disguise hatred is an ethical use of psychology. Making up and selling techniques up to do it is not anything other than more hatred.

Sexism at the Five-and-Dime: Discrediting Women for a Dollar or A Dime

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:42

In my state, this week, leaping off the lower right hand corner of the Front Page of the state’s largest newspaper was this “Educator who won one million dollars denies stealing $14.99 blouse“.

One of the state’s most gifted educators who against many, many odds started her own successful school, has written textbook ‘best-sellers’ on teaching children the literary arts went to the local expanded Five and Dime store to return a blouse. Having done so, the sales associate told her to go to the clothing rack and take another one to replace the one she returned. She did.

End of the story? No. The security personnel, who were watching, saw her take the replacement and put it in her bag. Immediately alerted, the ‘guard’ called the local police chief who came over and watched the store’s security camera and, unable to identify the woman in the film, placed the picture on the department’s Facebook page. Within an hour, the gifted educator called the police department and explained the situation. End of story? Believe her? No. She was charged with a misdemeanor crime and given a court date. The exchange with the clerk who took the returned item was not on the camera. End of story? No. The Portland Press Herald deemed it worthy of Front Page lower right hand corner announcement.

The school spokesperson said it is a misunderstanding.

Why does this “misunderstanding” not get resolved by the woman who just received a one million dollar prize presenting her proof that she was not shoplifting a $14.99 blouse? The story tells us - once again- that sexism is alive and when a woman’s credibility is questioned the first and primary place the media, this culture, lawyers and yes, many women go, is that her proof is not good enough and there just might possible be something wrong with her to have committed whatever it is she committed.

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Sexism at the Five and Dime: Discrediting Women For a Dollar or a Dime

-Susan Cook

 

In my state, this week, leaping off the lower right hand corner of the Front Page of the state’s largest newspaper was this “Educator who won one million dollars denies stealing $14.99 blouse“.

Whew. Front Page. Lower right hand corner. One of the state’s most gifted educators who against many, many odds started her own successful school, has written textbook ‘best-sellers’ on teaching children the literary arts went to the local expanded Five and Dime store to return a blouse. Having done so, the sales associate told her to go to the clothing rack and take another one to replace the one she returned. She did.

End of the story?. No. The security personnel, who were watching, saw her take the replacement and put it in her bag. Immediately alerted, the ‘guard’ called the local police chief who came over and watched the store’s security camera and, unable to identify the woman in the film, placed the picture on the department’s Facebook page. Within an hour, the gifted educator called the police department and explained the situation. End of story? Believe her? No. She was charged with a misdemeanor crime and given a court date. The exchange with the clerk who took the returned item was not on the camera. End of story? No. The Portland Press Herald deemed it worthy of Front Page lower right hand corner announcement.

The school spokesperson said it is a misunderstanding.

Why does this “misunderstanding” not get resolved by the woman who just received a one million dollar prize presenting her proof that she was not shoplifting a $14.99 blouse?

Because sexism is alive and when a woman’s credibility is questioned the first and primary place the media, this culture, lawyers and yes, many women go, is that her proof is not good enough and there just might possible be something wrong with her to have committed whatever it is she committed. No filter. No impulse control. Under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Suffering from a deep irreversible character disorder that must have showed up earlier in life. Or maybe she - you know women- spent the one million already.

Please bear in mind that even a woman claiming sexist treatment since men were made more aware of sexism thanks to the Gloria Steinems of the world- is also often considered suspect . Her proof is not good enough. She is making excuses. Thus a misdemeanor charge which should not have been placed in the first place is made. Because her proof was disregarded- readily available- but disregarded -despite all the evidence in the world- in this case literally- that her character, exceptional intelligence and gifts and reputation are sterling. And why discredit her proof without even questioning the recklessness of the police chief charging her? Because she is a woman and the reputation on the line is that of a man or men who failed to ask if the practice in this store was followed. “Go get another one from the rack“ the clerk says.

What might be left to do? Well, I suppose a civil liberties numb lawyer now as prosecutor could do whatever could be done to tarnish her reputation further by investigating deeply to see if this remarkably gifted educator had some hidden character flaw or secret substance abuse problem rearing ugly blemishes now as shoplifting. Or maybe the man whose reputation is on the line could hire a communications person- a new young one who knows Twitter and New Media to tarnish her further. Or dig around in the community. Outlandish? Unheard of for a man whose unethical if not criminal activity because his reputation is on the line would go to such lengths? No. Because sexism is alive and well, and the first ‘read’ of this situation will not be - repeat not be- to question the man’s credibility. The suspect is a woman. And even a Senator- even the girl ones- remain oblivious to the corrupting influence of that particular variation of sexism. The proof is right there on the front page of the biggest newspaper in the state. If you care to read it.

Letter from New Jersey: Civil Liberties New Jersey-style

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:50

Coming through the transom today, a letter from New Jersey to share. Civil Liberties: New Jersey-style!! How are they taken? Oh, I guess they mean Civil Liberties -the noun..

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Letter from New Jersey: Civil Liberties: New Jersey-style
-Susan Cook-
Today, we have a Letter from New Jersey to share. 
“My name is Bridget Ann and out of all 50 states in the United States I've decided to move to Maine!!  I’ve decided to move from New Jersey because I am really tired of how um. immature the political process is there. I used to have a big office in the State House right near very very important politicians there and they thought I was excellent but the press has been doing some very bad things down there. And they're trying to blame me! Just to get it out of the way, there was a problem with the roads and they had to- the people who run the roads- had to close some lanes on the highway and they were trying to blame me!! Just because I said in an email that we needed some lanes closed there because of safety!! I thought it was a very good idea-immunization against a bigger problem with the roads I mean.
And they are trying to blame me for  the hours and hours of traffic jams! I mean "Duh!". They have to close lanes- you get traffic! Get over it!  I'll just tell you that I hope that mayor down there where those traffic jams are gets blamed for that because he deserved it. My boss has done more for him than anyone in the country to help him get elected and he said he isn't supporting my boss. That mayor was not going to support my boss's re-election! So I think he could go live some place else because that is very New Jersey.  It's just too bad that he didn't like the traffic problems. It's his own fault. He deserved it. NO I am done with things like calling newspapers anonymously or having my proxies do it to try and prove what a bad mayor he is. I am in a way really glad he had those traffic jams because they are far more important in elections than articles in the newspaper calling him names. He deserved it but I didn't' do it. If we could figure out what his wife's married name was in her last marriage maybe we could prove what a lousy mayor he really is.  Really the worst part is now my name is in the newspaper and 99% of the people in New Jersey didn't know who I am and now they will! How am I going to get a job like that again? I am really really worried that now people will know what I do and I didn't make those traffic jams. I didn't. Honest. When I am in Maine I will be very careful to make sure only my boss knows who I am and only he has his name in the newspaper and not me. That's the biggest problem with that- that they traced to me! I believe in civil liberties.
I love lobster and everything and maybe I could get a job in the state house there and maybe the people in Maine are not as immature as the people in New Jersey so they would understand how something could happen miles and miles away  from my office in the State House that doesn't have anything to do with me. That man deserved it. And maybe the public will know he's not that great. It's called immunization. Maybe I could get a job where I could make a lot of money. They are doing very very important things with wind there and I'd love a job with that and I could make millions of dollars in that kind of a job. It would be a different field completely. I have a couple names of people to contact- of course I don't know them on a first name basis yet. Maybe someone in the State House could introduce me. Or  maybe a job with the political parties but I kind of already do that- just at the other end- of the phone I mean. You would think what happened with the traffic problems was a crime or illegal or something like that!  They're so immature in New Jersey they're calling it corruption. I bet they wouldn't call it that in Maine. “

And They'll Clear It With You: In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning), Political Appointees!

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:07

A musical tribute to political appointees (at the cost of the Public trust) with lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook! which could be sung to the tune from "The Nearness of You".

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"And They'll Clear It With You"

In the Department of Justice (and Reckoning)

and for The Great American Wrongbook

to the tune of "The Nearness of You"

A Musical Tribute to Political Appointees

 

 

It's not your old feats. When

you worked them

Your backstabbing to defend them,

Oh no. It's your new appointment.

 

Now that you're hired,

can't be fired,

job secure, nice checks when you retire.

Let's see. What else could I have you try?

 

You keep your mouth closed.

Hold your nose just so.

When I tell you, ok, now just let it go,

In New Jersey, they made the traffic go slow.

 

We won't conspire.

We're such good liars.

Selectively, we'll go much higher.

Punish those who interefered with my re-hire.

 

You know it's now our state.

We've got a mandate.

Now we can legislate. That is my take.

Slander and libel, we can always update.

 

So now don't go write

on a world wide website

you can just sit tight

when the time is right, you'll get hired.

 

I am not saying it's illegal

I'm just saying save your speil gal,

keep it quiet

Don't tell The New York Times.

 

In your new job, you can make sure,

your friends stay brushed up

forget the public's trust,

It's History, and you'll clear it with me.


It's  not your old feats. When
you worked  them
Your backstabbing  to defend them,
Oh no. It's the newness of you.
 

Stop Guessing Just Whose Financing was Used... In the Department of Poetic Justice (and for The Great American Wrongbook)

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:01

A musical tribute to a certain one hundred and thirty thousand dollars which it turns out a certain President did reimburse his lawyer for which had nothing to do with a certain election in 2016.

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In the Department of Poetic Justice: Stop Guessing Just Whose Financing was Used...

(and in The Great American Wrongbook)

which could be sung to the melody from "New York, New York"

 

Stop guessing just whose

financing was used

to pay a certain woman a fee

she thought she was due.

Because now Rudy blows the cover

Michael Cohen discovered,

Sarah Sanders, new news for you?

 

Maybe he forgot

a bargain he thought

he got or maybe that's the only

checkbook he ever lost

when he hoped we'd elect

him, president, neglect to inspect

check memos: "This one's for sex."

 

Now Sarah must spin

the spot he is in. Did Rudy call her first

to explain the logic she will bring

to speaking nationwide

saying he never lied.

You know how lawyers

keep clients' hands tied.

 

The only thing worse

than Mike Cohen's curse

if his client spoke up

said, Yes he had re-imbursed

one hundred thirty thousand bucks,

because sometimes his lucks

run out or he forgets who he...

 

 

Start spreading the news.

Embarassed V. 2.

But Mr. Trump will say at least he's telling the truth.

Unlike the White House Correspondents

host, Ms. Wolf made comments

embarassed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights too.

 

Sarah Sanders might

get her turn next time

while Michelle Wolf is exiled,

excommunicated too

and next year's Nobel Prize

for fiction, Sarah Sanders wins one.

She'll be the Nobel Board's new P.R. hire.

In the Department of Poetic Justice: Someone Must Have Planted

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:55

Musical tribute to the Mueller investigation, sung if you like to the tune from "Some Enchanted Evening..", "Someone must have planted...."

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In the Department of Poetic Justice

(and the Great American Wrongbook)

 

"Someone must have planted..."

(which could be sung to the tune from "Some Enchanted Evening")

-Susan Cook-

 

Someone must have planted

something in our laptops

or in our valises. How could they ever know?

Democracies don't

mean for sure, they won't

do whatever they can

to get at the truth.

Yes, I was trying to find some friends

down there in DC,

hoping I would win.

 

I had never been there,

to the Oval Office

except in my day dreams

I thought that I could show

the management staff

how they could improve

the heating and cooling systems

since I know

which ones are better,

lowering the rate

for heat expenses.

I sell real estate.

 

 

Who knew Jared Kushner

went to all those meetings,

here and there a sandwich

with people who would know

the best banks to use

for funding just whose

mortgages, leases

I never quite knew.

I was quite busy

working at Trump Tower,

Mar-a-largo into

the wee hours.

 

So I'll guess I'll tell you

on my I-phone I have

gotten emails from some

women I never knew.

And now I must ask,

is that where they hacked

when I exchanged messages, yes, I sent back.

Yes, they were women,

Russian what they

said, "Hot and excited"

Some wanting to bed.."

 

Sometime in the future after the election

when I had some spare time,

of course, I never knew,

the first selection

for President then

would be yours truly.

Even I was surprised.

Then I had no time to email back

President Trump.

They'd think their

laptops hacked.

 

It turns out I should have

had them all deleted

when I took a chance on

clicking the email line.

Now Mueller believes

that real estate deals

were on my mind. Does he forget

my first rule.

If there are women,

looking for some fun,

shapely and pretty,

I'll get the deal done!

 

 

Someone must have planted

something in our emails,

in plants on the desk top

or in the office where

yes, when I was bored,

I'd go through the more

than 10,000 emails from Russians,

well, wh....

Now the FBI,

sent their guys too,

I bet they open

those hot emails too.

 

 

Someone must have planted

something in our laptops

or in our valises. How could they ever know?

Democracies don't

mean for sure, they won't

do whatever they can

to get at the truth.

Yes, I was trying to find some friends

down there in DC,

guess what yes, I won.

Anonymous Used To Be a Woman

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 06:52

In the not so distant past, Anonymous was usually a woman. a woman composer, artist, author, musician, writer unless she was an accused criminal, an adulterer or a witch.The NYTimes editorial raises the specter that the machinations of power have truly shifted in this country to stifle freedom of speech, a civil liberty which keeps citizens visible and named. Is it possible men now need Anonymity to speak their mind?

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Anonymous Was A Woman

-Susan Cook-

 

As a regular New York Times reader, I always am very disappointed when I miss a "must read'" as I did when Anonymous published a disturbing analysis of President Trump.

 

In the not so distant past, Anonymous was usually a woman. a woman composer, artist, author, musician, writer unless she was an accused criminal, an adulterer or a witch.

 

That's not to say there is something regal and righteous about anonymous authorship. The NYTimes editorial raises the specter that the machinations of power have truly shifted in this country to stifle freedom of speech, a civil liberty which keeps citizens visible and named. Is it possible men now need Anonymity to speak their mind?

 

I had the pleasure of being the object of an Anonymous editorial first appearing through the anonymous machinations of the local journalism power brokers in my town that the tactless Downeast Magazine editor- a Republican- re-published I don't think the statute of limitations for libel have run out but basically, I testitified at the 2011 Congressional District re-districting hearing and I criticized recent actions by the Other party. I then said, completely misquoted later by a journalist who was emailed the inaccurate quotation by Who Knows Which party staffer- that the consequence of the other party actions could very easily be voter intimidation. Preface - please- by remembering that creating circumstance that will intimidate voters is a lot different than having the capacity to recognize that what you do intimidates voters. There are legislators that " all the live long day"like the tired working class song goes- engage in acts the consequence of which they will never, ever, ever, ever grasp- because of what ever set of blinders they bring to the position. Use whatever adverb or adjective you like. They don't get consequence. I gave three examples of these actions: moving 350,000 voters to a collectively newly configured district, eliminating same-day voter registration and a Senate President recording voter phone calls ( possibly as a courtesy to another shared user of the same phone then on the Other Party's National Committee) . Each of these examples require the further cognitive perambulation to recognize that some voters- witnessing these actions- may say "I can't participate in voting or voicing my opinion (paradoxically)." Some legislators and policy makers may just not have je-ne sais quoi- the recognizing that consequence thing down. Kind of like, some members of the current administration might not get around to recognizing the consequence of having an out-of-control President.

 

My criticism led to an anonymous editorial written by Who Knows, pushed through by Who Knows supplying the proper email addresses to Who Knows, facilitated by the Insider Track of Who Knows. Susan Cover now of the Kennebec Journal misquoted me. Who sent her "the misquotation" as if it it was what I actually said is another Who Knows. Sometimes, it takes a whole village to create spinelessness. Think Flint, Michigan.

 

My original observation of the legislator began with me calling about an act of environmental devastation which- several years later- sure enough- is now a fait accomplis.

 

When the machinations of power lead to those who speak out being targetted, publicly harassed, leading to the need to editorialize anonymously, very dark, entitled and priviliged permission-giving taking place in the inner circles of authority. If the anonymous editorial is based on inaccuracy and misquotation, as it was in my case, - very dark, entitled and privileged permission-giving taking place in the inner circles of authority.

 

I bet there are Democrats and Republicans in my state who are bloated with pride about the publication of an anonymous editorial factually condemning this President. The use of anonymity is also a functional MRI of a power structure gone very bad indeed- possibly revealing endemic spinelessness and, in that, a corruption of freedom of speech.

 

By the way the anonymous condemnation of me, misquoting my re-districting testimony about- paradoxically- intimidation of citizen voice is also an MRI of sorts- of a spinelessness- based on power abused not to correct the problem but to keep the jobs of the powerholders in place or find them new ones.

You Say Tomato, I'll Say Tomato! In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:41

Recently, diplomacy has evolved to a new - let's say species! Poetic justice and reckoning all in one tune! Trump, Putin, Crimea and golf! After all Dan Scavino, Jr. former manager of a Westchester golf course owned by a Certain Someone (and golf caddy for that special Golfer) is now Director of Social Media, i.e. International Relations, with an office right next door to You Know Who.

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In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

"You Say Potato, I'll Say Potato"

(and for The Great American Wrongbook, sung to the tune of

"You say Tomah-to, I say Tomayto")

-Susan Cook-

 

You say potay-to, I'll say potay-to.

You say tomay-to, I'll say tomay-to.

You say Nukes are good for me.

I say, "Hey, Pal, yes, I see."

Potayto, Potayto,

Tomayto, Tomayto,

Some new Nukes, some cute Nukes,

Forget all the old nukes.

 

I say you don't know a thing.

You say, "Nyet-ski, Who would think!

Fixed elections, me-oh-my!"

I know that you're on my side!

Inflated! Mutated! The vote count debated!

And Putin disputin' 

fake news they've been making'!

When I say you're innocent,

Det-ka, you are heaven sent!

 

Let's say potato, let's say tomato!

Putin refutin'! Donald disputin'!

Let's go out and hit the limks!

Commie-shmommy! I like pink!

Let's sink one! A pink one! We make a great twosome!

We're solvin' by golfin' ,

dissolvin' , resolvin'!

Mar-a-lago Crimea! Golf goes red!

That's my idea!

Idea! Crimea! The links where I'll see ya'!

Might be a resolver, the tee shots we're solvin'!

Nyet-ski! Det-ka! My little dove!

Can't believe we fell in love!

 

 

The Life-long Appointment of Trauma: The Silence of Trauma and the Credibility of a Supreme Court Nominee

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 07:00

Psychotherapists and trauma researchers can contribute to the understanding of how and why sexual assault victims remain silent and why that silence does not mean the event did not happen. Those contemplating the question of taking a recent allegation against Supreme Court witness Brett Kavanaugh very seriously might be informed by recent research on the silence of trauma.

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A Life Long Appointment: The Silence of Trauma and the Credibility of a Supreme Court Justice

-Susan Cook-

 

Christine Blasey Ford has done something that many psychotherapists not only perceive as credible but observe frequently. Because profound trauma has a life long appointment in the emotional, cognitive, and self-blame armanetarium of the conscience, individuals who experience it very often remain silent about trauma for a very long time if not for an entire lifetime.

 

The Michael Klahr Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Maine, recently recognized a man who was one of the first Marines to arrive on the day prisoners were liberated from a Nazi Concentration camp. After returning Stateside, he never told anyone about his experience of bearing witness to the consequences prisoners suffered during their interment. His wife of many years did not learn of his role until the day the Klahr Cnter staff called to announce his receipt of the award. His silence did not mean it did not happen.

 

Trauma not only does enters the person's life at the time it is experienced. The communion with humanity that might validate the deeply disturbing nature of what has happened is also taken away from the experiencer. Shame, humiliation and self blame are very precisely elevated to mediator status between civilized and uncivilized human tendencies- Freud first explicated that many years ago in his delineation of the place of the Superego or Conscience. In the instance of trauma, that mediator status keeps the vitim silent. To speak out means the civilized world might turn on the speaker as uncivilized. We have seen this many times. Anita Hill was ravaged by the defenders of then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

 

The silence of the victim, for many, many years sometimes, does not mean the event did not happen. The traumatic event is laced in and through the person's emotional status all the same, manifest in different individuals differently, on a continuum of mental status, which can present as highly stable resilient functioning or debilitated internal and external chaos. Resilient stability can descend into chaos , substance abuse, anti-social pathology if the pinions asecure life offers come loose. Internal and external chaos can find anchors once the place of penetration of the trauma is identified and healed.

This brings us to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court and his recent accuser- Christine Blassie Ford. As we brace for the onslaught of either a mass migration toward not believing her or a tenuous fragile dismissal of her allegation as too old to count, the voice of psychotherapists who treat trauma victims needs to be included.

 

Discrediting Dr. Ford because she has not spoken out sooner about Judge Kavanaugh's alleged assault, does not mean it did not happen. Minimizing the impact of the event because she has not spoken out does not mean it was not traumatic. Any number of psychotherapists would confirm that without treatment, sexual assault places a long sustained restraint on human potential, in subtle or overt, more or fewer restrictive ways. The treatment itself often can only begin once disclosure takes place. That can be to one therapist, for the first time, ever, many, many years later. None of that means the memory is specious. The False Memory Syndrome, you will remember, is an invention of the legal system, copping legitimate sounding diagnostic terminology for a leg-up on the witness stand. As the peculiarities of a traumatic event, yes, become vague or distorted: the position of the assaulter, the presence of passive bystanders, it is important to remember that at the moment when the adrenaline system's fight or flight response is thwarted- which is the hallmark- of a post-traumatic stress disorder event- the executive planning of the frontal lobes shuts down. Bessel Van Der Kolk says in the aftermath of trauma someone else needs to be our frontal lobes for us: to tell us "Here's how you get to the subway station." "Get your phone and call your parents." Lock the door." Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies have depicted trauma as remembered in imagery not precise verbal sequencing suitable for grand jury or Senate Judicial Committee testifying. An adolescent girl's life is shaped irreversibly by sexual assault. Many first time disclosures of these events which precede onset of treatment only take place years after the event.

 

Trauma creates its own life-time appointment.It is usually left to each of us to cull and then extract its distortions. This time the legislative pinions are being tested as to whether they can withstand, like a trauma survivor has to, the truth. I fear they cannot and will run like New Yorkers on 9/11 from an unfathomable event that actually happened.

The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: Shouldn't Questions About Effects on Memory Be Tailored for His Memory and Hers?

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:12

Testimony about an accuser of a Supreme Court Nominee will take place before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Today's Sixty Second Moral inquiry asks shouldn't effects on his memory- alcohol, in his case- and hers- trauma and the passage of time- both be part of the questioner's inquiry?

Soudabscookjrnolanbest2_small The Sixty Second Moral Inquiry: Shouldn't Questions About Effects On Memory Be Tailored for His Memory and Hers? Today's Sixty Second Moral Inquiry asks, in questioning a Supreme Court nominee and an accuser who reports an episode of sexual assault during his high school and college years, isn't asking about all the factors that might effect memory the right thing to do? If alcohol is used to excess, isn't it important to ask if the nominee used alcohol to excess? Because the effect of alcohol on memory is known and memory blackout, a known consequence, isn't asking about the nominee's experience of alcohol induced blackout important? If the nominee claims to not remember, isn't asking about his use of alcohol part of finding out if alcoholic blackout took place? If sexual assault trauma effects the memory of an accuser and alcohol effects memory blackouts, isn't asking about the nominee's use of alcohol the fair and right thing to do?

The Thickness of the Moral Skin of the US Senate: To Be the Catcher in the Rye

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 08:19

The thickness of moral skin is sometimes measured in the willingness of its inhabitants to take on the risk of being the catcher in the rye- the one who protects the children running toward danger. The US Senate during the hearings to vet a Supreme Court nominee stepped aside- almost to a one. The spectacle was almost like watching the ingenuousness of Holden Caulfield falling away after encountering the world's indifference- this time right in front of us.

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The Thickness of the Moral Skin of the US Senate: To Be the Catcher in the Rye

 

"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye? I'd like-"

"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old Phoebe said. "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."

"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."

She was right, though. It is "If a body meet a body coming through the rye." I didn't know it then, though.

"I thought it was "If a body catch a body'," I said."Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch eveybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."

 

After Holden Caulfield has this conversation with his little sister, in his sojourn before entering a psychiatric hospital, he calls up Mr. Antolini, the Pencey Prep teacher . "He's the one that finally picked up that boy that jumped out the window I told you about, James Castle. Old Mr. Antolini felt his pulse and all, and then he took off his coat and put it over James Castle and carried him all the way over to the infirmary. He didn't even give a damn if his coat got all bloody."

 

 

In the aftermath of the confirmation hearing of a prep school alumnus who left a trail of nightmares and unresolved trauma in the emotional web of one 15 year old, the thickness of the moral skin of US Senate members comes to mind. I'll talk about the 2 from my state since I know most about their moments of moral cowering.

 

In 2007, I was interviewed and quoted by a reporter for Current.org , a public broadcasting newspaper. Susan Collins had contributed mightly to the firing of a popular Friday night jazz host who had criticized the Iraq War- in a genial, understated. way Turns out that the Maine public broadcasting Board of Trustees was comprised of members who together gave over $160,000 to the Republican party. I said (look it up) that Mainers would work hard to defeat Susan Collins in her next go-round she being someone who engages in activities that usually get legislators thrown out of Washington. Now, Senator Collins does not like anyone making reference to her pre-marital relationships in her first 50 years of dating eligibility or recreational activities. That off-sides view that Susan Collins endorses about her own past, may explain her minimizing the testimony of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's sexually assaulted victim. Indecent exposure is also illegal. Instead, she insisted his distortions, lies and beligerence toward his 2018 Senate questioners had nothing to do with his judicial temperament. By Collins' side, as she announced her choice, was Maine's recent failed GOP gubernatorial candidate, former DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew whose cost-cutting adminstration co-occurred with an almost unparalled number of deaths of children at the hands of their foster, biological or step-parents.(https://www.pressherald.com/2018/05/14/letter-to-the-editor-mayhews-dhhs-neglected-maines-children/)

 

Senator Collins usually hires out her thin moral skin and backlash toward those who threaten. Her one-time Director of New Media Matthew Gagnon was a player on the Maine political commentator scene whose willingness to bully has been documented on the front page of Maine's largest newspaper.

 

Then there's Maine's other Senator Angus King who ires quickly when anyone calls him out on his - ahem- purchase - when he was governor- of a state-owned oceanfront parcel of land abutting one of Maine's pristine ocean-side state parks. I even a wrote some lyrics sung to the tune from "America the Beautiful" which his purchase decidely was not.The purchase was documented in the Times Record and noted there was no "public bidding" on a piece of property that any one knew would do nothing but increase in value. It is now worth many times what he paid for it by encouraging the right state employee .

 

"Oh beautiful for spacious me, for land I'd like to buy,

that borders on state property in Georgetown or nearby,

that suddenly the state of Maine would like to sell to me,

the ocean deep, the price real cheap, what better guy than me?"

 

The morally thin skin of US Senators created a Brett Kavanaugh nomination and hearing that has left millions of sexual assault survivors in this country with a deep sense of moral betrayal. While survivors are compromised because of the emotional fissures trauma creates, many have stepped forward to disclose, despite the insistent cacophony of shame and the self-doubt that the assault is their own fault. Withstanding that self-blame requires morally thick skin which the moral imperative of the Kavanaugh hearing creates.

 

I do not trust Senator Collins or our other Senators- to be- we all hope they might- the catcher in the rye. Only one came to Holden Caulfield's mind- the teacher who carried the suiciding adolescent boy and didn't even care if he got blood on his jacket. Senator Collins and her GOP Senators minimized the belligerance, hostility and denial of his past of a Supreme Court nominee accused - not in a trial- but a job interview. In the wake of that dismissal, many, many sexual assault survivors who the equally morally thin-skinned Lindsay Graham said "have a problem"( hint: are flawed, damaged, mentally ill) will go home and direct the damage toward themselves- in self-harm, self-mutilation, if not suicidality.

 

Not one of these Senators can be trusted to be the catcher in the rye- nor can this Supreme Court nominee-. They are far too frightened of getting blood on their jackets or their morally thin skin.

Dept. Of Poetic Justice time! "Oh, They Did Shed Light on His Conduct Back At Home"

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:25

In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning) with lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook (and sung to the tune from "My Old Kentucky Home") a
musical tribute to the decision by Sen. Collins and Sen. McConnell to ignore the #MeToo movement.

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In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

with lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook

 

"Oh, They Did Shed Light on His Conduct Back at Home"

which could be sung to the tune from "My Old Kentucky Home"

 

Oh, they did shed light on his conduct back at home.

Was it when his Mom was out of town?

Did it make Mitch think that as long as no one found

a dead body he had found his man?

 

Susan Collins thinks that the first rule to uphold

is her favorite "Don't bring up the past."

If you do, she'll get Mary Mayhew at her side,

the expert at leaving out the facts.

 

Oh, when the Senator goes out around  the town,

Mitch is the one man that she's ever found

who told her she is his only saving grace,

a pound of wet leather has more gravitas.

 

And when Mitch said, "Hey, remember our first rule?

I will not bring up the past. If you vote for this

embarassment of mine, we will try

to get your reputation back.

 

Mitch and Susan don't remember the new rule.

Harvey Weinstein, even Catholic priests,

spend their time thinking, 'Gee, I wish I only knew

female fierceness. Now there is #MeToo.

 

Monkey business used to mean the man got caught,

no indictment. Time for divorce court.

Mitch McConnell doesn't realize that Me Too's

Betrayed women are getting their fair due.

 

Let's hope Susan Collins likes retirement,

playing golf or maybe she'll be caught

in recycling her betrayals of days old,

Instant messaging with Gary Hart.

 

Chorus:

Oh, they did shed light on his conduct back at home.

Was it when his Mom was out of town?

Did it make Mitch think that as long as no one found

a dead body he had found his man?

The Generic Election 2018 Senate Candidate Anthem: In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 05:19

In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning) , a generic anthem for each and every Election 2018 Senate candidate.

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The Generic 2018 Election Senate Candidate Anthem

-Susan Cook

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I am a profound man

So don't keep asking me to say for what it is I stand.

My friend Big Grouchy told me, "Just say you do not know

which Senators agree with you. Voters don't have to know.

 

" Oh beautiful, for spacious me, Big Grouchy meant to say

Don't tell them how you'll vote until they really have to pay.

Friday before Election Day, when Silver's polls are up,

Their vote will be your Hostage! Kavenaugh the final wedge!

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. Big Grouchy says I can

hide all the facts about my past, my voting history.

I'm not anonymous you know. But Grouchy gets real mad

if someone tells the truth and he can't find out who they are.

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me. Big Grouchy also said

Make sure you scan the Internet and pay some overhead

to Google every minute to tell you if they post

the facts you know, so they won't blow the cover off of you.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. Big Grouchy says he will

send out subpoenas rapidly when Truth's anonymous.

It's not that he's a liar. It’s public image work.

He says just show them what I want. The rest they can forget.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. My only problem is

because I have said things outloud, it’s not anonymous.

I mean the public record. It’s out there on the web.

Maybe Big Grouchy’s next lawsuit will ban the Internet.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me, I know that I can win.

I've got them all so nervous. I think it is a cinch!

The most important thing to me is getting to D.C.!

Constituents? What's that? The issue's loyalty to me.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me, I don't know what Brie is.

Food you know is not my thing. It doesn't go ka-ching!

My checkbook always needs me: I round up every sum.

The difference goes to charity, Guess what ! Lowers the tax for me!

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I don't do sacrifice.

The Senators earn 100 thou. I don't plan to be one of them.

There is a difference, I'll tell you, no, I don't think I can.

I don't want citizens to think they are the ones I'm better than.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me, I give to charity.

It comes to point zero zero one of my salary.

My supporters don't do math. Plus I am not a Mormon.

They give their ten percent away. No way I'll outdo them.

 

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I won't let wages rise.

A dollar here, some quarters there. What do poor people buy?

I 'm not that big a spender, except for my TV,

It's part of my economy. Don't ask me: "So, tax-free?"

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, a trillion dollar gap,

would not be my problem when I am down there in DC.

It's not something I started . It wasn't on my time.

Too bad for you. you've got enough to pay me on your dime.

 

And yes, environmentally, contamination might

happen somewhere, the EPA has problems keeping sight

of chemicals and stuff like that. My votes will all be right

Don't start inventing reasons for me to take on your gripes.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. There are times when I'm wrong.

It doesn't really matter though, because I know I'm right.

It shows that I'm a leader. I will do what I want.

Do not forget I have to fend for my financ..um.. political life.

 

Oh beautiful for spacious me. I'm not a hypocrite.

Computers are for everyone and helps them feel they fit

into the world of cyberspace. Who knew they’d be Anonymous

and spread the truth about my past while I'm in politics.

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious me, I 'm so glad that I found

the time that I will really need to make my way around

to donors who will help me run my Senate race for free:

Make sure the check's signed properly "For More Money...For me."

They Ran For Congress! In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning)

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:39

Sailing toward the Midterm election, lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook sung to a seafaring tune.

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In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Poetic Reckoning)

with lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook

 

"They Ran for Congress..."

(could be sung to the tune from "We Saw the Sea")

 

-Susan Cook-

 

They ran for Congress so they could finally

get rid of gridlock eventually.

Now don't tell voters they didn't end it

Instead They liked it eventually.

 

When they got down there, they found that gridlock

is not what you'd call a two-way street

since they would caucus with the like-minded

the ones with whom they all agreed.

 

They'd tap them on their padded shoulders

and say "Hey, bro, you want to chat?"

Then Mitch McConnell stared at them blankly,

said "All the Democrats sit in the back,"

 

It hurt their feelings but there was no way.

At least, they tried.You might as well,

know now they're grateful since they have realized

at least their a--s--- did not get fried.

 

Bailing, bailing, not for them!

And leave their big fat salaries.

Short work days, their cup of tea

Remember! Vote and send them back to DC!

 

They thought they'd find out intricate details,

how they could fix things that aren't broken.

They read their pamphlets and their instructions.

Of course, they also like to win.

 

They couldn't manage to fix the problems,

the ones that aren't cracked. You'd think they could

at least make up for all the gridlock.

Turns out they only made things worse.

 

They heard Commissioners down there in DC

are very nice and know their jobs.

The only problem's they never saw them,

I guess no GPS for Ms. DeVos.

 

They heard in Congress, they'd make decisions

and more decisions on policy.

The only problem is they'd be thinking

they got it right but no one else agreed.

 

 

Bailing, bailing, not for them!

And leave their big fat salaries.

Influence their cup of tea!

Just remember! Send them back to DC!

Dept. of Poetic Justice tune: "Nate Silver's Been Counting All the Numbers..." sung to "It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas..."

From Susan Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:20

A musical tribute to polling before Election Day! In the Department of Poetic Justice (and Reckoning) with lyrics for "The Great American Wrongbook" sung to "It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas"

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In the Department of Poetic Justice (and reckoning) with lyrics for the Great American Wrongbook

"Nate Silver's been counting all the numbers..."

(sung to the tune from "Its beginning to look alot like Christmas"


Nate Silver's been counting all the numbers.

Every poll you see.

Time for Nate Silver to put down

his wizard wand, take off the gown.

The Dumbledore one, his disguise.

 

We are worried because we still remember

Just two years ago his quirks

acting like his numbers reversed ,

somehow knew the future first.

Didn't call Ellen Langer or channel Stephen Jay Gould first.

 

I hope he has finally come to realize

he is not at the race track.

The numbers he likes to trace

are events that all took place

when respondents picked up phone lines.

 

Or answered the caller on the cell phone

and said "Yes, I soon will vote."

Heads up, Nate, what that answer is

is what the person said just then

at that moment not two weeks hence.

 

A person responding to a question

is just the same as you or me

when we enter a voting booth

and record that moment's truth:

when we vote things up or down.

 

Maybe Hogwarts Online could help him

understand time difference

as they say over in Par-ee

Hier ce n'est pas aujourdhui

C'est difference. They're different days.

 

Hogwarts alumni have ongoing

seminars in wizardry.

And reassert all the time

prediction is not their game.

They do their magic in real time.

 

Nate Silver could sign up for the course

on wizardry for those in math.

Statistic anomalies still won't

change a basic fact:

elections won't turn Nate's clock back.

 

The day of the polling he was using

to predict who'd win or lose

He denies it with all his might

but he was hoping he was right

his Wizard hat perched way up high.

 

Over his favorite Dumbledore robe.

Don't you wish he'd just fess up

math has models that don't explain

future happenings which aren't the same

as what is counted when polls are made.

 

 

There are racetracks that run the horses daily

They like their polling geeks

since there's money on the table

picking ponies a good gig.

when Nate retires. Is that next week?